Plea for child cruelty register
Tuesday 29th October 2013, 5:40PM GMT.
Social workers did not know the father of a baby found dead with a fractured skull had a previous conviction for child cruelty, a serious case review has found.
The report said that if the father, known as Mr A, had been convicted of a sex offence then intervention and information about his background would have been more readily available because he would have been on the Sex Offenders’ Register.
Instead, Mr A completed his sentence and probation, moved to Hampshire and had twins with another woman – one of which died at three-months from a fractured skull.
The case has led to the review author, Ron Lock, calling for a national register of those who have committed child cruelty to be set up.
“Mr A’s previous offences against a child were no less serious than sexual abuse and additionally were potentially life-threatening, and yet no system existed to afford the same level of extended monitoring,” the review said.
“New arrangements are required at a national level to ensure that offenders who have committed certain offences against children are required to register the details of their address with the police and to be subject to monitoring arrangements for specified periods of time.”
The offence of the father was also wrongly listed as GBH and battery and not child cruelty on the Police National Computer.
When a housing department asked the police for details of his convictions, the correct offence was not given because accuracy of the information was not easily discernible from the records, the report said.
Mr A had committed his crime against a baby from a previous relationship at about four or five weeks and it suffered five fractures.
At the time, he was in the relationship in another part of the country and then moved to Hampshire in 2009 after serving a year in prison for the offence.
He met his new partner, who suffered from depression and had self harmed, and she became pregnant with the twins.
One was then found face down in a Moses basket at its home in Southampton in September 2011.
A post-mortem examination found the baby – known as Child G in the report – had died from Sudden Death Syndrome with “non-accidental injuries” which was then confirmed as a fractured skull.
An examination was also carried out on the baby’s twin, known as Child H, and it found a leg fracture and a possible healing skull fracture.
That child was taken into care and both parents arrested but police have never brought charges as there was insufficient evidence.
The review discovered failings in the way information was shared by the police, probation service and between health professionals which could have alerted the authorities to the background of both parents.
It also concluded that there “was the lack of any robust inquiry by any of the health professionals about the background of Mr A and regarding his role with the children once they had been discharged from hospital”.
Southampton Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), which commissioned the report, said that the recommendation to set up a national register has been sent to the Home Office.
Keith Makin, chairman of the LSCB, said: “This tragic case highlights a number of important learning points for LSCB partners as they seek to improve services for children in Southampton.
“It also highlights an important national issue: how – in the absence of a national register – agencies can best track the risks posed by offenders who have committed violent crimes against children. We have written to the Home Office about this.”