Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children's Board has today (Friday 5 January) published the findings of a Serious Case Review into the murder of a child by his mother's partner.

The toddler, who was two years and nine months old and is referred to as Child G in the review, died on 22 November 2016. He had been taken to New Cross Hospital the previous evening and found to have a number of injuries ranging in age and severity. He sadly passed away in the early hours of the morning.

In June 2017, his mother’s partner, a violent man whose belief in the value of physical chastisement in bringing up boys led to the toddler’s death, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Child G’s mother was convicted of allowing the death of a child and jailed for three years and four months. The boy’s elder sibling, who was seven years old, was taken into care.

The Serious Case Review was commissioned by Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board to ascertain the involvement of agencies with Child G and his family and determine what lessons could be learned.

The review involved a number of agencies who had been involved with Child G and his family, including Croydon Council, Croydon Safeguarding Children Board, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, the Home Office, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group and the City of Wolverhampton Council.

Child G’s mother came to London from the Caribbean in 2003 as a child to join her family. As an adult, she had no recourse to public funds, meaning she was not entitled to benefits or social housing, could not hold a driving license, or open a bank account, go to college or university or gain employment.

She moved to Wolverhampton in 2014, shortly before giving birth to her son. Her partner came back into her life in the summer of 2016 during a visit to London to see her maternal grandmother, a few months before the murder.

Linda Sanders, Independent Chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, said: "This was a tragic case which lead to the death of an innocent little boy at the hands of an abusive, controlling individual who was rightly jailed for life. His mother was also imprisoned for failing in her duty to protect her son.

"The report makes it very clear that, prior to presenting at hospital with the injuries which caused Child G’s death, there had been no particular concerns raised about his care and welfare. He was typically found to be a happy boy who was developing normally by the professionals who came into contact with him.

"This all changed when his mother got back together with her ex-partner, a very violent man who believed in the use of physical chastisement to bring up boys.

“While the severe level of violence inflicted on the child could not have been predicted from the man’s history, it is a sad fact that if the mother had not allowed him back into her life, he would not have been in a position to inflict the fatal injuries on her son.

“Professionals involved in the care of children always want to know what they can do better to improve the ways they work together to protect children, and this Serious Case Review was commissioned to find out what worked well, and what could and should have been done differently.

“It highlights a number of areas of good practice by professionals and community and voluntary organisations who worked with the family in London and Wolverhampton.

“But it also raises important questions about how professionals assess the risk of domestic violence and the implications that having no right to remain and no recourse to public funds have on the lives of the families they work with.

“It also highlights that professionals need to get better at assessing families, including understanding what parents’ faith means to them and finding out about other individuals who may be involved with them.

“The review also underlines the importance of ensuring effective recording of information and transferring of records when families move between services or from one part of the country to another, to ensure that local agencies are aware of their arrival and their status to enable them to respond appropriately.

“A number of formal recommendations have been made following this review. These have been accepted by Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board and we are overseeing their implementation. We are also ensuring that learning from this review is widely disseminated so that we can reduce the likelihood of this tragic situation ever being repeated.”

The recommendations include:

  • For Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board: to consider how it can draw to national attention the inconsistent application of duties for the authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children of families with no recourse to public funds; and to contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation to review its expectations of journalists and editors regarding the publication or broadcast of material which raises potential child protection issues.
  • For Wolverhampton and Croydon Safeguarding Children Boards to ensure that no recourse to public funds protocols used by agencies in their areas incorporate learning from this review.
  • For all Safeguarding Children Boards which contributed to this review to: consider how best to improve services to protect victims of domestic abuse from repeat victimisation; to consider how to improve the confidence of practitioners in seeking information about what a parent’s faith means to them, and how this impacts on their lifestyle, wellbeing and parenting; consider how practitioners can have a better understanding of the needs and vulnerabilities of families who don’t have leave to remain and ensure families with no recourse to public funds get better access to universal services and targeted support; and consider how best to enable practitioners to access relevant public facing social media to enhance their assessments.

Furthermore, individual agency reviews have made a number of recommendations for the respective agencies. These have also been accepted by Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board which is monitoring their implementation.

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