The failings by the Local Authority were found to have contributed to the tragic death of Baby P. In 2007, Baby P died at just 17 months old after suffering a series of injuries at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend Steven Barker, and Barker’s brother Jason Owen. Baby P was on the at risk register and there had been 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over an 8-month period prior to his death. Worrying parallels can be drawn with the recent case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes some 15 years on.
The tragic, heartless killing of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by his stepmother has understandably sparked national outrage again and calls for action. ‘Arthur’s law’ if passed, will see all child killers die in prison.
Such reform is considered vital in light of the distressing facts that surround Arthur’s death. Unfortunately, the death of a child in such circumstances is not a one-off occurrence. As noted by The Guardian social policy editor Patrick Butler, Arthur’s devastating fate has been shared with more than 50 children last year, who were also killed in the UK as a result of abuse or neglect.
Star Hobson, is another child who was cruelly murdered last year at just 16 months old. Star’s grandmother was one of five family members and friends to make a referral to social services before her death from “catastrophic” injuries. Star’s mother Frankie Smith has now been jailed for eight years. She was found to have caused or allowed her daughter’s death alongside her partner Savannah Brockhill. Brockhill has been jailed for 25 years for murder. The Attorney General has been asked to review the sentences given to both parties.
Calls for tougher prison sentences is not the only reform that is being advocated. There are also heightened concerns surrounding the quality of children’s services. As noted in The Guardian, 50% of Council Children’s Services have been rated inadequate or require improvement by Ofsted. Ofsted also found significant failings with Solihull Council’s Child Protection Services just months before Arthur’s death last year. Social workers from Solihull Council found “no safeguarding concerns” when they visited two months before Arthur’s killing. As highlighted by The Guardian, the awful death of Arthur “shows the tragic costs when the state fails.”
Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council has said he welcomes the upcoming national review into the killing of Arthur. Similarly, a Child Safeguarding Practice Review is also to be published following Star’s death per Bradford Council. It is hoped that these will lead to much needed improvements.
As noted on the Gov.uk website, anyone who sees or suspects child abuse, or is worried about a child known to them, should report concerns to their local children’s services or by contacting the government-supported NSPCC helpline. They can also call 999 if the child is at immediate risk.
We at Farleys specialise in helping children who have been victims of abuse. If you would like to speak to an abuse claims specialist in confidence, please call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email and we will get in touch with you.