Review into agencies’ involvement with murdered toddler Star Hobson delayed

The publication of an investigation into the contact agencies had with 16-month-old Star Hobson before she was murdered by her mother’s girlfriend has been delayed.

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review was due to be published before the end of this month but the Bradford Partnership said further work was needed, including making sure Star’s family’s views are fully reflected.

Bouncer and security guard Savannah Brockhill, 28, was jailed for life at Bradford Crown Court in December for murdering the toddler at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Brockhill was ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison and Star’s mother, Frankie Smith, 20, was given an eight-year sentence for allowing her daughter’s death.

The killing of Star and details of how she was subjected to months of assaults and psychological harm caused a national outcry, especially as the trial came shortly after the case of murdered Solihull six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Star’s great-grandfather, David Fawcett, led the questioning over why social services and police did not act despite five different family members and friends raising concerns with the authorities in the eight months before she died.

A national review was launched following Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’s death and education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said last month that the local review into Star Hobson’s case would feed into this.

On Monday, Jane Booth, chair of The Bradford Partnership – Working Together to Safeguard Children, said in a statement: “Following detailed discussions between the National Panel and the safeguarding partnership for the Bradford District we have taken the decision to do further work to the Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into how agencies responded to the events leading up to the terrible murder of Star Hobson.

“This means that we will not be in a position to publish the review in January 2022 as we had originally projected.”

Ms Booth said some of the evidence which emerged in the trial was not available to the independent person undertaking the review.

She said: “Both the National Panel and our partnership have agreed that this mass of evidence needs to be looked at in great depth to make sure the review’s recommendations are as robust as they can be so that learning for all agencies is captured.

“Following the trial the author has now also been able to speak directly with Star’s family and we want their views to be fully reflected in the final report. We also want to work closely with those reviewing the case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes to understand common themes across both cases.

“We know that not being able to publish the review in January is disappointing, particularly for the family and friends of Star, but we owe it to Star to make sure that the findings of the review take account of all the facts that emerged during the trial.

“It is vital that we all – partner agencies, staff and our communities – have full confidence in the review’s recommendations and the actions that our partnership will need to take in the future to better protect children.

“We will announce a new publication date in due course.”

Earlier this month, the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, referred Smith’s sentence to the Court of Appeal, saying she believed it was “unduly lenient”.

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