Social workers missed opportunities to stop abuse of woman before violent murder

There were “missed opportunities” to stop the abuse of a vulnerable woman before she was murdered, an independent review has found.

Sharon Greenop, 46, was found dead at her home in Troon, South Ayrshire, in November 2016.

Her sister, Lynette Greenop, was convicted of her murder at the High Court in Glasgow and handed a mandatory life sentence in May last year.

Prior to her death, Sharon had received a community care package from social work services at the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

A significant case review was carried out to consider social work involvement with the victim and to see whether there were lessons to be learned about protecting at-risk adults.

It concluded that the managers involved could not have foreseen the violent death Sharon would suffer, but it found that “more could and should have been done to identify Sharon Greenop as a vulnerable adult and to intervene to ensure her protection from harm”.

It found that the decision to allow Sharon’s care package to be closed was flawed and that the decision to do so “exposed Sharon to the abuse which ultimately ended her life”.

It also found that the partnership missed opportunities to raise adult protection concerns over Sharon’s wellbeing, which could have resulted in interventions that could have stopped Sharon being abused.

The document noted that Sharon’s case had not been formally reviewed since 2012 and that the quality of that review was “poor”.

Hers was one of hundreds of cases that had not been reviewed over a number of years, despite a statutory obligation and a corporate policy to undertake annual reviews.

Furthermore, record-keeping was extremely poor and hampered by outdated information systems while management practices were found to be poor in places.

The review, led by independent chair David Crawford, has issued five recommendations to the partnership.

These include ensuring that proper steps are taken before the closure of a care package and that arrangements are in place to review care packages at least once a year.

Tim Eltringham, director of the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We take our responsibilities to protect vulnerable adults from harm very seriously. While we know it won’t bring Sharon back, we are deeply sorry that we failed Sharon and her family and I have delivered that apology in person to her sister, Diane Hogg.

“We fully accept the findings of the review and recognise where we fell down in delivering the standard and quality of service that Sharon needed and deserved. We’re doing everything in our power to ensure this cannot happen again and we’ve made a lot of progress in improving how we work.”

In a statement on behalf of Sharon’s family, Diane Hogg said: “I questioned the continuity of care and the system which should have protected Sharon.

“As the review was progressing and urgent recommendations were being administered, I knew that other areas would take time to change. So, with hindsight maybe understanding and insight, looking at the past mistakes it could prevent another family from undergoing the same traumatic experience. Hopefully these lessons can and will be learned.

“Although I have answers, it still leaves an undeniable feeling within myself that just maybe my sister would still be alive if protocols and policies had been followed.”

Professor Paul Martin (pictured), chair of the South Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee, said: “It’s clear that steps could have – and should have – been taken by the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership that could have stopped the abuse she (Sharon) suffered before her untimely death.

“That’s unacceptable and through the Adult Protection Committee and the Chief Officers’ Group – which I report to and includes the chief officers from the council, police and NHS – I’ll be ensuring that the necessary improvements are put in place as quickly as possible and visibly make a difference for people and communities in South Ayrshire.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) South Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee.