West Midlands Councils Draw Up 60 Recommendations After Tragic Death Of Baby Girl

Lawyer Says Lessons Learnt Should Be Shared With Authorities Across The UK

29.04.2013

By Helen MacGregor

Lawyers specialising in child abuse claims have welcomed the news that 60 recommendations have been drawn up by two West Midlands councils after an 18-month-old died because social services couldn’t decide who should look after her.

Little Keidey-Ellese Earp died in December 2011 after being left alone in a wet cot by a window for more than four hours. The authorities had not picked up on her case after her family moved house.

An inquest heard that court care proceedings by social workers, who had been monitoring her case for seven months over concerns that she was underweight and failing to thrive, was launched just two days before her death.

Sandwell social services had been monitoring the girl since April 2011, when she had been living with her grandmother in the borough. But Keidey and her mother moved to Pensnett, and discussions began about handing the case over to Dudley Council.

Consultant Alan Ferguson, who was commissioned to carry out an inquiry following the death, said Dudley refused to accept responsibility unless ‘stable child protection plans’ were in place. Her case stayed with Sandwell Council.
A coroner recorded an open verdict, but said it was probably due to the cold conditions she was left to lie in.

Tom Fletcher, an expert child abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “This case is tragic and shows the need for clear communication and guidelines between different social services teams when handing over or taking on a new case.

“We welcome the news that 60 recommendations have now been put in place but would like to see proof of how these recommendations are being implemented to protect youngsters and vulnerable members of society and ensure they do not fall through the net.

“Sadly we continue to be contacted by victims of child abuse who have been let down by the authorities and we hope lessons that have been learnt in this case are shared with councils across the UK to ensure a similar tragedy cannot happen again.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to child abuse claims