Northamptonshire Children’s Trust chairman warns more independent reviews ‘in the pipeline’ after disturbing baby neglect case

The chairman said in a press conference on Tuesday that we can expect more independent reviews into child neglect under ‘inadequate’ children’s services

By Megan Hillery
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 7:30 am

The chairman of the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust suggested that more independent reviews into cases of child neglect will follow in a press conference addressing the case of a severely neglected baby.

A press conference was held on Tuesday, April 26 with the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership after a report was published revealing how care professionals missed opportunities to stop a catalogue of neglect suffered by a young baby.

This is the third independent review into incidents concerning infants in the county published in the last six months.

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Chairman of the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust, Julian Wooster. Photo by David Jackson.

This newspaper asked the chairman of the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust, Julian Wooster, how many more of these cases can be expected to come out of the woodwork.

Mr Wooster said: “The safeguarding partnership will review cases and will take action to identify those and will hold child safeguarding practice reviews, which you have a copy of today.

“There are others in the pipeline - to be clear about that - which date back to that period of time when services were inadequate in Northamptonshire and that’s the important message around the history of Northamptonshire which we are actively addressing.”

Previous independent reviews include the death of a six-week-old baby, who suffocated in bed whilst the parents were “heavily intoxicated” in October 2019 as well as the death of a six-month-old boy in April 2020, which the report ruled warning signs were missed by children’s services.

Councillor Fiona Baker at the Child Au press conference in Franklin's Gardens. Photo by David Jackson.

Children’s services in Northamptonshire are still currently rated as inadequate by Ofsted. The last full inspection was completed in June 2019.

Cabinet member for children, families and education at West Northamptonshire council, councillor Fiona Baker, said at the press conference: “We do have to remember that, although we are still rated inadequate, Ofsted actually haven’t done any of their proper inspections during the Covid period and we are expecting them to come to our service probably September time for their inspection.

“During that time previously, we have had regular inspections throughout the service on a regular basis and, on every occasion, they have said they can see improvement.”

This newspaper asked Councillor Baker how they can say they are seen to be “improving” with three independent reviews emerging in just six months.

Councillor Baker said this is due to the courts being “massively delayed” with the work they have been doing for children’s services.

She added: “We are in a totally different place now. That is an area we wouldn’t recognise if we went into it now. We have had huge numbers of staff vacancies, we had a service that just was not at all functioning well.

“When Ofsted came in, they rightly found us inadequate and, from that moment onwards - with the help of our then commissioner and various other people put in place to help us from other councils - we have steadily worked to make this a better place to live.”