No police to face disciplinary action following murder of toddler Star Hobson, watchdog decides

No officers will face disciplinary action following the murder of 16-month-old Star Hobson, according to the police watchdog.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said there is “no indication any police officer may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings” but identified “considerable learning” for West Yorkshire Police (WYP) to improve how it responds to reports of child abuse and neglect.

It said the learning identified for the force included a closer working relationship with social workers and developing a multi-agency approach.

Star (pictured) died at her home in Keighley on September 22 2020.

Star’s mother Frankie Smith was jailed for 12 years for allowing her daughter’s death and her partner, Savannah Brockhill was jailed for life, with a minimum tariff of 25 years, for Star’s murder.

On Thursday, the IOPC said the learning identified was made after it investigated how police responded to two reports Star suffered injuries in the months before her death.

It said that the first report was made by Star’s father on June 21 2020 after he received photographs of bruising to his daughter’s face. Officers examined Star and discussed the situation with safeguarding professionals before she was examined at hospital by a doctor who concluded the injuries were caused accidentally.

Star’s father made a second report on August 31 2020 after receiving a video showing bruising to his daughter’s face. Officers were later informed by Children’s Social Care that the injuries were thought to be accidental.

The IOPC said in a statement: “Our investigation concluded there was no indication any police officer may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or committed a criminal offence.

“WYP officers and civilian staff involved in the investigation were treated as witnesses.”

The watchdog said the 10 areas of learning highlighted for WYP included recording intelligence and information sharing between stakeholders.

IOPC regional director Thea Walton said: “The circumstances of this case are shocking and profoundly disturbing, and I would like to express my deepest sympathies to Star’s family for their tragic loss.

“While our investigation found no evidence to suggest WYP caused Miss Hobson’s death, our investigation did highlight some considerable learning for WYP. That is why we have identified a number of recommendations which include a closer working relationship with CSC and a multi-agency approach moving forward.

“The responsibility for Star’s death lies squarely with the two women who have been sentenced and we hope that our recommendations will help ensure any potential future opportunities to safeguard children are not missed.”

Assistant Chief Constable Damien Miller of West Yorkshire Police said: “We have already made significant progress in the areas that have been highlighted in the report and are working with partner agencies to implement them.

“The death of Star Hobson was a tragic case which has had a profound impact on the local community. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Star’s family.

“Protecting vulnerable children is a top priority for West Yorkshire Police and we are committed to working together with partners to improve our practices in the safeguarding of children.”

Earlier this week a coroner decided that an inquest was not needed into Star’s death given the criminal proceedings and the scrutiny it has been given by the national review into the tragedy and the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

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