Waltham Forest probe into ‘suicide’ of former child in care

AN investigation has been launched into the suspected suicide of a 23-year-old man who had been in the care of Waltham Forest Social Services.

The man, who died last week, had been in care up until his 18th birthday, with the council closing his file in July last year.

But the authority said it would still undertake a serious case review into the death to see if any lessons could be learned.

News of the apparent suicide emerged during a meeting of the borough’s Children Trust Board this week.

Conservative councillor Laurie Braham, who attended the meeting, said the case raised serious questions about the level of support given to former children in care.

He added: “Some young people who knew him very well spoke at the meeting and I got the impression that he felt he had no-one he could turn to.

“The council cannot be held responsible for the death but I think it must consider how it can improve the networks of support for former children in care.

“However it could well be that this would have happened anyway, even if there had been more support for him. We just don’t know.

“When a child is in the care of social services the council is its corporate parent. In the same way that parents still offer support to their children when they grow up councils should do the same.

“It’s very sad what happened but I hope the council will look very carefully at it.”

The council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Saima Mahmud, said she was upset by the death.

She added: “The death of any young person is a tragedy and our thoughts go out to this young man’s friends and family at this difficult time.”

A council spokesman said the authority could not comment further on the case until an inquest is held.

But he did say: “Children have a duty to be cared for until they are 18 and local authorities then have a responsibility to provide services under the Children Leaving Care Act until they are 21 unless they are in higher education in which case they receive services until they are 24.

“These services can take the form of providing financial assistance, personal advisors and accommodation.”