Social workers suspended over attack on baby

Three social workers have been suspended after making a “serious error of professional judgment” in allowing a Leicestershire father to return home and batter his baby daughter, a council said.

Despite warnings from a trainee probation officer that Zak Whitlock posed a risk to his child, social workers ruled he should be allowed to return to the family home.

The 21-year-old battered the girl, just weeks old, around the head, fracturing her skull and leaving her with permanent brain damage.

A serious case review found paperwork about the risks posed by Whitlock had been lost.

Three social workers, including one manager, also knew of the threat he posed following a case conference, but still decided he could live with the child in Wigston.

Now it has been revealed that all three have been suspended on full pay pending disciplinary hearings.

Whitlock is serving a minimum prison sentence of four-and-a-half years after he was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to the child.

The inquiry, published in Braunstone, Leicestershire, found the baby, known as Child B, was admitted to hospital four times during her short life, on one visit showing unexplained marks to her legs, and bruising to her ear and cheek on another occasion.

The investigation also found social workers were too ready to listen to the problems of Whitlock and the child’s mother, ignoring the needs of the baby girl, and that both abused drugs and were known to police, while Whitlock had a history of mental illness.

Gareth Williams, director of children and young people’s services at Leicestershire County Council, said: “I would like to say straight away how sorry I am that this child suffered such tragic injuries. At the heart of this case was a serious error of professional judgment made by social care professionals, which was made whilst working with very difficult adults.”