Child death echoes mistakes of the past

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

A parent and her partner were convicted recently of abuse and murder of their child despite social workers being alerted to potential abuse three times in the year prior to the death. Nursery staff and neighbours had raised the alarm three times and no further action was taken.

This incident echoes the circumstances that surrounded Baby P where despite extensive interventions by social workers (up to 60 visits) insufficient action was taken.  Although it would appear that there was far less contact with social workers in the case in question this crisis could potentially have been prevented if more sophisticated lines of communication were in place and if social workers had investigated further when asked; there is a question of limited resources and proportionality which may have had a factor to play in the failure to investigate this matter further. Notwithstanding this point it is difficult to intervene within the family home even when concerns are raised and some may argue that social workers need greater powers to intervene to investigate cases of abuse where raised sooner.

The recent announcement of an independent national panel to investigate child deaths will hopefully help to provide the nation with clear opportunities to learn from past mistakes.

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