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Review Identifies Failings In Child X Case

Social Care Body Accepts Findings Of Investigation


Sunderland Children’s Services Social Care (part of Sunderland City Council) has accepted the findings of a Serious Case Review into a sexual assault committed by a child in 2009, which identified a series of failings within the organisation.

The report, published by the Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board, into the case of Child X, an 11-year-old boy who raped a young disabled child, stated that the varying agencies who worked with the family did not work together well enough.

A number of organisational failings were also highlighted in Sunderland Children’s Services Social Care alone, with the body confirming that it now has an action plan in place to counter the issues raised in the review.

Measures include a review of safeguarding training for all agencies, as well as improving information sharing protocols and reminding workers of their duty to highlight concerns they have over any child.

In November 2009 Child X was sent to a secure detention centre for four and a half years.  During the criminal trial the judge heard that a psychiatrist had twice written to social services recommending that Child X should be placed in care and these letters were not acted upon.  The Judge said that if something had happened and Child X had been taken into care then the rape would not have taken place.
Gary Walker, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in claims involving failures of local authorities, welcomed the Service’s efforts to respond to the review’s recommendations.

He said: “It is absolutely vital for lessons to be learnt from this terrible case, so it is positive to see Sunderland Children’s Services Social Care taking major steps towards addressing this issue.

“This case is similar to so many that we deal with, in the respect that it highlights how vulnerable members of society have been failed by problems or inconsistencies in safeguarding systems.  In this case the agencies failings have affected the lives of two vulnerable children and their families. 

“Lessons need to be learnt from the serious failings identified in this review, with the hope that the same mistakes seen in this worrying case will not be repeated in the future.”