Erskine Bridge deaths inquiry hears from social worker

A teenager who plunged to her death from the Erskine bridge was “nowhere near” the criteria for her to be in a secure unit the year before she died, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

Georgia Rowe, 14, died along with Neve Lafferty, 15, after they plunged more than 100ft in October 2009.

Both girls had been residents at the Good Shepherd Centre in Renfrewshire.

Georgia was removed from a foster placement with her aunt in 2008 and taken into care in East Yorkshire.

She was fostered by her aunt in Sorn, Ayrshire, as a baby because her mother was unable to care for her.

But the placement broke down when Georgia began to behave erratically and eventually she was taken back to Hull in 2008, before she was returned to Scotland the following year.

Alison Wallace, a social worker from East Ayrshire Council, said she was “surprised” when she learned that four or five months after Georgia was taken to England, she had been put into a secure unit in Hull.

She told the inquiry: “When she was in East Ayrshire she was nowhere near the criteria for secure accommodation.”

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She added that it had been her understanding that Georgia would be placed with her extended family in Hull.

But, in fact, Georgia was put in two foster placements before being transferred into secure accommodation in Hull.

Ms Wallace told the inquiry that Hull City Council, who remained the authority in charge of the teenager’s care, had passed on no information to social work colleagues in Ayrshire after taking the 14-year-old south in June 2008.

She said she only learned that Georgia had come back to Scotland after her death.

Sheriff Ruth Anderson asked her: “Nobody kept you up to date with what was happening to the child in Hull?”

She replied: “No.”

The sheriff went on: “Were you surprised that Hull never once contacted you?”

Ms Wallace said: “Yes. Obviously, the Good Shepherd is a centre we use.”

The inquiry at Paisley Sheriff Court continues.