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Child abuse probe sparks action plan
The abuse of a four-year-old boy by his mother’s boyfriend led to a review to find out if more could have been done to protect him.
A Serious Case Review (SCR) has found that the agencies involved after the four-year-old boy was discovered by police faced “considerable pressure” around the time the incident occurred.
The youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found by Sussex Police officers in July 2012.
He was stood in a bucket with a black bin liner taped to the body and with significant bruising to the body, including his face, body and genital area, the SCR has announced.
And the boy’s six-year-old sister was covered in insect bites.
Both children were taken to hospital where the boy told staff “daddy hits me”.
The children’s mother, 26, and her partner, 38, who was not the children’s biological father, were subsequently convicted of child cruelty at Lewes Crown Court and jailed.
The children are now in a foster home, and because of the serious nature of the offences the review was held.
This addressed whether agencies involved with the family, including East Sussex County Council and the police – who had no contact with the family prior to the incident – could have done anything differently.
School nurses involved in the case told the SCR they were under “considerable pressure” at the time of the incident and felt “senior managers had insufficient understanding of pressures”.
“This led to a decision that a service would only be offered to families/children where there were identified safeguarding concerns,” the SCR said.
The ESHT (Health Visiting and School Nursing Service) report into the case also identified “significant resource pressures” while East Sussex Children’s Social Care said there were “pressures on the service that did affect practice at the time”.
Responding to the SCR, a spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “The review concluded the assault on the child could not have been predicted, so it is difficult to see how it could have been prevented.
“It has, however, also identified some areas where the agencies involved could improve practice. We are working with the LSCB to ensure those improvements are made.”
Cathie Pattison, independent chair of the East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), said: “As with all SCRs it has identified areas where practice could have been better and makes recommendations for how agencies can learn from this incident.
Based on the recommendations of this SCR the LSCB has produced an action plan and is working with all the agencies involved including the school, ESCC, Sussex Police and the NHS to ensure those improvements have been made.”
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We have already taken action to implement the only recommendations from the SCR that were directed to this force, namely to review arrangements for MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences) for domestic abuse referrals, in order to ensure suitable recording of those meetings, and effective interface with other agency recording arrangements including the child protection system.”
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