Kingston’s Baby A Brain Damaged After ‘Confusion’ By Social Services

Serious failings in child protection could “not have guaranteed” the safety of a baby who was severely brain damaged, a critical independent report into Kingston social services concluded.

In a second case, where two child were doused in diesel by their suicidal father after social services “backed away” from the family, both Kingston and Surrey ignored national child protection guidance, drawn up in the wake of the tragic death of Victoria Climbie.

The report into Child A and Child B, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Surrey and Kingston services failed to intervene.

The suicidal Chessington dad later doused his autistic sons with diesel and hit one of them repeatedly with a car jack, causing him serious head injuries.

The report, commissioned by the Kingston Local Safeguarding Children Board headed by Kingston Council’s head of social care Patrick Leeson, criticised the fact that trainee staff were assigned to the case and despite its complex nature.

It also found that there was poor record keeping and “worrying discrepancies between agency records and actions”.

In the second case, a new-born baby was left with permanent brain damage after an “unco-operative” mother, who had made allegations of domestic violence was allowed to leave Kingston hospital against the advice of police, because social workers were “confused” about which agency should take the lead.

According to London-wide guidance any single allegation of domestic violence in a family with a child under 12 months old should trigger a child protection investigation.

In this case, there were two separate incidents of domestic violence, but the Children’s Emergency Duty Team weren’t told about the concerns.

Days later, the baby suffered extreme brain damage due to dehydration from neglect, but in both cases – which date back to 2007 – the reports said it was not possible to conclude the incidents could have been prevented.

Councillor Patricia Bamford, Kingston’s executive member for children and young person’s services, declined to comment on those specific cases.

But before Christmas, she reassured a packed executive meeting at the Guildhall that the council was not complacent in the wake of the Baby P abuse scandal in Haringey.

She said there were 84 children in Kingston on the child protection register and a 2008 assessment showed the council was performing well.

“We are never complacent in the work we do to protect children and young people,” she said.

A spokesman for the council pointed to its recent outstanding Ofsted rating when first contacted about both serious case reviews.

The Ofsted report, based on data provided by the council, said that no weaknesses were identified for safeguarding children.

In a statement, Kingston Council said: “Serious Case reviews are an important opportunity for agencies to learn from the experiences of an individual case and ensure that residents continue to benefit from the very best practice.”

Commenting on the case of Child A and Child B, Surrey County Council’s Andy Roberts, chairman of the Surrey Safeguarding Children Board, issued a statement on behalf of all of the Surrey agencies involved.

It said: “We regret that tragic events like this happen and that children are harmed by those responsible for their care.

“No agency can prevent these sorts of things happening but we are working together to minimise these occurances and ensure that children are as safe as possible.”

A spokesman for Surrey and Borders Partnership said it was saddened and shocked by the incident but had drawn up an action plan to ensure the lessons were learned.

To see the reports in full click here