Child death and safeguarding

Following our blog yesterday specifically commenting on the report in to the deaths of Star Dobson & Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (12/21), we comment further on the shocking statistics regarding child deaths. Just this year other children including Amina-Faye Johnson & Matthew Langley (1/22), Kyrell Matthews (3/22), Nafahat Diini & Logan Mwangi (4/22) have all died

An NSPCC Report in 12/21 noted:

In a five year period there had been 58 child deaths due to assault. On average 1 child a week is killed in the UK due to abuse or neglect. Children under the age of 1 are the most likely age group at risk, followed by 16-24 year olds. Homicides are most commonly caused by the child’s parent or step-parent.

Key Findings of the NSPCC Review are:

England

The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel received notification of 482 serious incidents relating to 514 children between 1 January and 31 December 2020. Of these notifications 206 were in relation to child deaths:

  • 36 were caused by maltreatment within the family
  • 17 were related to extra-familial child homicide or fatal assault
  • 20 were other deaths related to maltreatment

Scotland

The Care Inspectorate received 82 notifications that initial case reviews (ICRs) had been undertaken between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2021, of which 32 progressed to a significant case review (SCR). The Care Inspectorate analysed 50 ICRs that did not progress to a full SCR, 23 SCRs and two thematic learning reviews; relating to 96 children and young people as part of its triennial review of findings. Of these 96 children and young people 28 had died:

  • 2 died of culpable homicide or murder
  • 4 died of neglect
  • 7 died for reasons related to drugs
  • 1 died of physical injury

Northern Ireland

Between January 2003 and December 2008 there were 24 case management reviews (CMRs). 18 of the reviews were convened on children who had died:

  • 4 were related to deaths from physical or sexual assault

However according to recent press reports in some tabloids the true figures are significantly greater. There are claims of cover ups and sensational headlines of ‘The 228 child deaths they didn’t want to tell you about’ in which it is contended in 92% of cases children’s services failed victims.

Lord Laming’s inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie in 2003 was meant to improve safeguarding.

Some of the Key Recommendations:According to recent press reports the actual outcomes:
Free social workers from time-consuming bureaucracy Social workers now spend 80% of their time in front of computers
A new child-protection agency be formed to ensure policy is implemented at a local level and that lessons are shared when children are killedThe agency was never created
Local agencies must always work together and share information About three-quarters of serious case reviews say the failure to share information was a problem
At risk children should have a nominated workerOften four to five different workers will be involved 
safeguarding children’s boards, to be chaired by the council chief executive.  Boards are often chaired by children’s services directors. It is claimed social services departments are therefore reporting to themselves
No child protection case should ever be closed until social workers have seen the child and their familiesMany cases  –  like Hylene Essilfie (4/07)  –  are marked ‘no further action’ without further interviews 

The above claims question whether the child care system is in crisis?

*dates denote press interest


Written by Jagdeep Hayre (jagdeep.hayre@blmlaw.com)

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