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Care watchdog launches new investigation into social services after reports highlight failures
THE FAILINGS of Southampton social services to protect ten city children, including two who later died, is being investigated by a care watchdog, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Today the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) confirmed it is looking into the catalogue of errors after the publication of three Serious Case Reviews on vulnerable youngsters who slipped through the city council’s net.
As previously reported, council bosses this week apologised for the shocking failings but no disciplinary action has been taken against any staff involved.
It comes just 24 hours after a Daily Echo investigation prompted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to revisit the case of Shelly Adams after one of those reports condemned her care of sons Bradley and Jayden, who died within three months of each other.
An initial CPS investigation into Ms Adams was dropped after it was deemed there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute, but yesterday the CPS revealed they would go back to consult with police.
But social services also came under fire for failing to protect the brothers despite the “obvious”
neglect they were suffering at the hands of their mother.
Bradley should not even have been in her care when he died, as he was supposed to be looked after by his grandmother.
Another Serious Case Review found miscommunication between social services, health visitors, GPs and a school meant a six-year-old girl suffered 92 injuries while living with a dangerous man with a history of violence.
Both he and the girl’s mother have since been jailed for “offences relating to her injury and neglect”, while the girl is now in foster care.
And a third damning report revealed social workers failed to intervene in the case of seven c h i l d r e n , despite them being subjected to sexu a l abuse b y their father.
Now the HCPC says it is looking into how social workers, many of whom were agency workers at a time when the service was in “disarray”, handled the youngsters’ care.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of the serious case reviews by the Southampton Safeguarding Children Board into failings at Southampton social services and are currently making inquiries with the local authority to determine what action, if any, we need to take.”
Claude Knights, chief executive of the Kidscape charity, which aims to protect youngsters from bullying and abuse, said failings in social services had led to a “catastrophic outcome”.
She said: “It is extremely sad to read about yet another Serious Case Review that points to many ways in which young children have been let down by those who should have protected them.
“The lessons to be learned are well known and there are no plausible excuses for any children’s service not to be aware of the fundamental processes that need to be in place to keep children safe. It is to be hoped that the necessary measures will be put in place immediately so as to prevent the repeat of such tragic and preventable deaths.
“If we truly believe that the safety of children is paramount we must invest in the provision of effective training and support for those who are entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable in our society.”
With Government figures showing that 1,203 children out of 10,000 are currently deemed “in need” in the city – the highest rate in the south east – council bosses have already carried out a number of improvements to the service.
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