Kids’ service boss’ job hangs in the balance

A CHILDREN’S services boss has been having crunch talks about her future following the murder of a toddler who was let down 12 times by social workers.

Jill Baker, in charge of children’s services in Salford, faced demands by opposition councillors for to her go following the death of Demi Leigh Mahon.

Demi, two, was murdered by teenager Karl McCluney, who had been left alone to look after her.

But social workers had already been warned at least a dozen times about the toddler’s chaotic domestic life and that her mother was taking drugs and unable to cope.

The issue came to a head after the council’s chief executive, Barbara Spicer, carried out a review into the decision by Mrs Baker not to discipline anyone in the wake of Demi’s death.

Ms Spicer and council leader John Merry were angry that Mrs Baker had told the media that no one would be disciplined over the case.

High-level talks were held by council bosses on Wednesday and Thursday to decide Mrs Baker’s future.

In June Mrs Baker told our sister paper the M.E.N she wanted to remain in her £105,000 a year post and ‘make a real difference’.

A damning report said there were failures by Salford council, health professionals, and police in responding to the risk Demi Leigh was exposed to.

But the independent Serious Case Review concluded the death of Demi ‘could not have been anticipated and therefore could not have been avoided.’

McCluney kicked, punched, and bit Demi on his 15th birthday leaving her with 68 injuries and brain damage. He was sentenced to at least 15 years in custody last month.

He had been annoyed that Demi would not be quiet while he watched the toddler’s TV channel CBeebies.

Police had contacted the council five times in two years with concerns over Demi, her mother, or both. Social services received a further five alerts from neighbours and Demi’s own grandmother contacted Salford council to say she was worried about Demi’s welfare.

Demi’s death was one of a number of problems in Salford’s Children Services Department.

The day after she died in July last year the M.E.N revealed how Salford council had been ordered to take urgent action over ‘inadequate’ support for at-risk children still living in the community

In May this year we reported how the officer in charge of all the city’s council-run children’s homes had been suspended after three homes were deemed to be inadequate by Ofsted.