Agency failures over Bradford fire death boy’s care

A review has found there was a “wholesale failure of integrated working” by agencies involved in the care of a boy who died in a house fire.

Damian Clough, 12, who had autism, died in the blaze in Kinara Close, Stocksbridge, Keighley, in April 2009.

Bradford Safeguarding Children Board carried out a serious case review because the family had been receiving help from a number of agencies.

It found lessons could be learnt around the quality of care he received.

Damian, who also had severe learning disability, died from smoke inhalation after the fire at his home.

Two teenagers were subsequently found not guilty of causing his death at a trial last October.

The review’s executive summary said the youngster lived with his family and spent one weekend a month with a respite carer.

It stated he was a “lovely young man but difficult to look after” and as a result he and his family received help from agencies including social services, police and health and education professionals.

The report found more could have been done to consider the boy’s living standards and how his disability affected them.

It said: “There is no evidence at any point that any professional thought about the needs of the family as a whole.

“This means that there has been a wholesale failure of integrated working amongst professionals.

“The failure to address the impact on the family and the behaviour of the child has been key to the fact that this family suffered so many difficulties.”

Professor Nick Frost, independent chairman of Bradford Safeguarding Children’s Board, said while the care and support was “in no way connected to his death” lessons could be learnt to raise standards of practice.

It concluded “significant change will need to occur to reduce the likelihood of similar failures to promote the welfare of disabled children in Bradford”.

A number of recommendations have been made as a result of the review, including agencies working better to share information and front line staff being better trained and supported.