Shannon Matthews – Social Services Under Spotlight

Social services are under the spotlight once again in the wake of the Shannon Matthews case. Schoolgirl Shannon’s mother Karen Matthews has been convicted of kidnapping and falsely imprisoning her daughter.

It has emerged that social workers were monitoring the family and that Matthews’s seven children had been placed on the child protection register but later taken off despite concerns about violence in the household and poor living conditions.

A psychological report on Matthews highlighted her “inability to successfully place the children’s needs above her own” in December 2003 – three years before Shannon went missing.

The report concluded: “Her ability to protect her children is compromised by her inability to successfully place the children’s needs above her own.

“I believe that Karen will require constant monitoring and support throughout the lives of her children.”

Kirklees Social Services said it was limited in what it could say about the Matthews family for legal reasons.

In a statement, Alison O’Sullivan, Director for Children and Young People at Kirklees Council, said that “very important issues concerning the children, the actions and plans of this local authority past, present and proposed will be scrutinised carefully”.

She went on: “We are acutely aware that the difficult issues surrounding child protection and the promotion of child welfare by local authorities are rightly the subject of huge public interest.

“Kirklees Council and the agencies it works alongside strive in all cases to achieve a proper balance between rigorous statutory intervention and social support for children and families who may be struggling to cope.”

Matthews, 33, was condemned by police as “pure evil” after a judge told her she faces a substantial jail sentence for kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Her co-accused Michael Donovan was convicted of the same charges at Leeds Crown Court.

Matthews conspired with Donovan, 40, her partner’s uncle, to keep Shannon drugged and imprisoned for 24 days in a desperate plan to claim £50,000 in reward money.

Det Supt Andy Brennan, the officer who led the investigation, said Matthews had “totally betrayed” her daughter and said her motivation for kidnapping her was purely financial.