‘Opportunities Missed’ By Authorities In Charge Of Keanu Williams' Care

‘Opportunities Missed’ By Authorities In Charge Of Keanu Williams’ Care

03.10.2013

By Helen MacGregor

Expert child abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say it is imperative lessons are learnt by authorities across the country after a report into the death of a two-year-old boy killed by his mother found there were ‘a number of significant opportunities missed’ to save him.

A serious case review into Keanu Williams’ murder published today said social care workers, the police and health professionals had "collectively failed to prevent Keanu's death".

The report found different agencies had "become confused" as their strategy discussions had focused on the medical and forensic aspect of his injuries, which at the time of his death were noted as 37 injuries including a fractured skull and torn abdomen.

Keanu’s mother, Rebecca Shuttleworth, was convicted of murder and four counts of child cruelty after a five-month trial. She was ordered to serve at least 18 years in prison.

The report by Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board concluded that although Keanu's death on 9 January 2011 could not have been predicted, the agencies involved could have seen that he was "likely to suffer significant harm".
The toddler should have been subject to a child protection plan "on at least two occasions" to address issues of neglect and physical harm, the report said.

The serious case review makes eight recommendations:
• Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) should review child protection to focus on the "child journey", and "key facts" should be readily available to front-line staff.
• Agencies should review the access that staff have to records.
• BSCB should ensure records are sent to relevant people and filed properly.
• There should be a "critical review" of child protection medical assessments and support procedures.
• BSCB must track and review the process of any changes.
• Procedures for "whistle-blowing and challenging" to be reviewed by all agencies involved in the case.
• New training programmes for staff.
• There should be a management review to provide evidence that action has been taken.

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

Expert Opinion
What happened to Keanu is both shocking and horrific and should never have happened in 21st Century Britain where there are bodies and guidelines in place to protect vulnerable people.

“We welcome the report by Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board but it is imperative the recommendations are implemented immediately by the authorities to ensure the same horrific abuse of a child can never happen again.

“Lessons should also be learnt by authorities across the country to improve the safeguarding of youngsters and ensure similar failings on such a large scale will not develop in other areas.
Luke Daniels, Partner