Council apologises for failing to identify abused teenager

Middlesbrough’s director of children’s services has led apologies for the council’s failure to identify that a teenager with life-threatening health problems was being abused.

The teenager, known as K, suffered physical and emotional abuse over a three-year period after moving to Middlesbrough in 2005 to live with his father and stepmother.

The abuse culminated in his seeking help from a neighbour in August 2008 when he was admitted to hospital suffering from a serious medical condition and bruising.

Between 2005 and 2008, K missed a total of 18 specialist health appointments, with one year-long gap between two appointments.

A serious case review into the incident revealed there were at least four occasions between 2005 and 2008 when the difficulties the teenager was experiencing could have been addressed. These included the concerns raised with children’s social care and health staff about missed appointments and his relationship with his parent and step-parent.

The report also found that neither police nor children’s social care staff disclosed all the information to Cafcass about the history of domestic abuse relating to the teenager’s father, when the body was asked to provide a report to change residence arrangements.

Although information was held by police, health and social care staff in relation to domestic abuse, the review concluded this information was not brought together effectively.

Gill Rollings, Middlesbrough Council’s executive director of children, families and learning, said: “We regret that this child’s predicament was not identified or dealt with at an earlier stage.

“We fully support all the recommendations in the report and these have all either been implemented or will be put into place in due course.”

Mike Carr, the authority’s executive member for children and families, added: “We are concerned at any situation in which a child suffers, particularly at the hand of a close relative, and we do all in our power to ensure that does not happen.

“Safeguarding is a vital part of the work we do, with partners, and this case will ensure our procedures are stronger and more transparent in future.”