Rebecca Shuttleworth Case Shows Need For ‘Urgent Action’ Within Children’s Services

Birmingham Child Abuse Lawyer Says More Needs To Be Done To Protect The Vulnerable

27.06.2013

By Helen MacGregor

Expert child abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say urgent action is needed to tackle the ‘systemic failures’ within Birmingham Children’s Service to protect vulnerable youngsters from suffering unnecessarily.

The call came after Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood, spoke out following Rebecca Shuttleworth, the mother of two-year-old Keanu Williams, being jailed for life for his murder. He accused the scandal-hit service of being swamped in a ‘passing the buck’ culture.

The city council’s children’s social services department was first rated inadequate in 2009 following a series of child deaths including Khyra Ishaq who was starved to death.

It is now set to spend a fifth year with a tag of being ‘inadequate’ and serious problems within the service continue to be seen. Last week the council’s vulnerable children scrutiny committee warned that the department is still struggling with high sickness levels, poor quality casework, staff problems and delays in dealing with vulnerable children.

The latest public figures report reveal that the Safeguarding Children service is failing to meet 24 out of 41 targets which is only a small improvement on 28 at the beginning of the year.

It is understood that the missed chances to prevent Keanu Williams’ murder will be revealed in full in the coming weeks.

Following Shuttleworth’s sentencing Mr Mahmood claimed: “There are huge amounts of bureaucracy which tie social workers down. There is systemic failure. “It is all about passing the buck rather than trying to deliver a service. And no-one gets reprimanded, sacked or held to account for this failure.”

Tom Fletcher, an expert child abuse and social care lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “The fact that the local children services have been deemed inadequate for the last five years is extremely worrying.

“We continue to see failings by Birmingham Children’s Services and other local authorities in which children are being left too long in extremely dangerous and neglectful environments.

“These deep rooted problems within the department need to be addressed as a matter of urgency to prevent further tragedies like the deaths of Khyra Ishaq and Keanu Williams and protect vulnerable members of society.”

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