Social Worker Resigns Over Death Of Alisha Allen

A social worker has resigned over the death of five-month-old Alisha Allen, council bosses confirmed yesterday. A spokeswoman for Durham County Council confirmed the resignation on the day that shocked MPs were told three children a week die in Britain as a result of abuse.

Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert told the Government’s children’s select committee that 210 children died as a result of abuse between April last year and this August

The statistics quoted by the NSPCC are that between one and two children die following cruelty every week in England and Wales and one child is killed at the hands of their parents every 10 days.

Last week, an independent review highlighted failures in both County Durham and Sunderland councils social services to protect Alisha, shaken to death by her violent father Gary Allen while her educationally subnormal mother Claire Morton failed to protect her.

Ms Gilbert said Ofsted was considering producing a “whistle-blower hotline” for social workers to raise any “serious concerns” they have about child safety.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions after the meeting, committee member Graham Stuart said the “death toll of the innocent” outlined by Ms Gilbert showed there was “something profoundly wrong with our society”.

In response, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “We have to do everything in our power to prevent the needless loss of young life as a result of child abuse.

“First of all, we must ensure that child protection arrangements are effective everywhere, and that is why Lord Laming has been asked to undertake his urgent review of progress that has been made in these areas.

“Secondly, we need to train social workers more effectively and that is why we have set aside £73m for better training for our social workers in the years to come.

“Thirdly, we are asking Ofsted to carry out inspections annually across the country in every area of children’s services and, where there are inadequate case reviews, they must immediately convene an independent panel to reconsider these reviews and report properly in the future.”

The Serious Case Review study carried out in the aftermath of Alisha’s death at her home in Marigold Crescent, Bournmoor, near Chester-le-Street, in January 2007, found a lack of communication between social workers in Sunderland and County Durham after the Allen family moved two miles across a local government boundary.

Following a case conference held in County Durham she was taken off the “at risk” register despite the protestations of a Sunderland-based case worker, and downgraded so that she was regarded merely as “in need”.

The review found that senior County Durham social service officials failed to attend the case conference, one of whom is understood to be the person who has resigned.

One of the review inspectors’ recommendations is that managers at both Sunderland and County Durham social services departments must feel “confident in raising concerns about supervision with more senior managers including, if necessary, whistleblowing procedures”.


December 2005 – Sunderland Social Services involved with Morton and Allen.

June 2006 – While still in her mother’s womb, Alisha placed on the child protection register.

August 8, 2006 – Alisha born.

September 18, 2006. Child protection conference in Chester-le-Street, decides not to place Alisha on the County Durham child protection register.

October 2006. A GP sees Alisha but fails to report bruised forehead.

November 17, 2006. Alisha admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital for failing to gain weight. Discharged six days later.

November 23 2006. Family ignore hospital appointments.

January 21, 2007. Alisha admitted to hospital with head injury.

January 24, 2007. Alisha dies in hospital.

September 12, 2008. Allen and Morton sentenced

December 5, 2008. Case review by inspectors criticises a catalogue of failings in the treatment of Alisha.

December 10, 2008. Social worker’s resignation emerges.

MP’s fury over failure to protect baby ‘at risk’

KEVAN Jones MP, whose North Durham constituency covers Alisha’s last home, said he remained furious that more officials have not been brought to account.

He said: “The real thing that angers me about this case is that this child was known to the authorities – she was on the at-risk register before she was born.”

Mr Jones said of the Sunderland social worker who argued that the family should not be removed from that register after they moved into County Durham, but whose colleagues in Durham overruled her: “She should be commended. This was a typical case of officials failing to listen to the worker on the ground, with a tragic outcome.”

The inquiry also looked into health services provided by the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust and Sunderland Primary Care Trust.

When a GP saw Alisha, no action was taken over a bruise, and a six-day stay in hospital after she failed to gain weight was not followed up by the authorities.

Mr Jones added: “At least the councils have admitted they made mistakes, but there has been no apology or explanation from the health trusts who also failed this poor child.

“It is not acceptable. You cannot have a situation where all these agencies fail a child and no-one takes responsibility.”