CARE STAFF 'FAILED BABY WHO DIED'

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The Independent Online
A 15-month-old baby found dead in a pool of urine was the victim of a series of failures by health professionals and child-care workers, according to a report published yesterday.

The parents, who were both convicted of manslaughter, show no remorse and intend to have more children, the report says.

The study, which says signs of neglect were ignored for years, is the result of an independent inquiry into the death of baby Paul, commissioned by Islington Area Child Protection Committee, north London.

The couple, who have six other children, went on trial at the Old Bailey last year. The father, also found guilty of cruelty by neglect to three other children, received a seven-year jail sentence. The mother was put on probation.

The inquiry report, by the Bridge Child Care Consultancy Service, is the first of its kind to deal with death through neglect for more than 40 years.

The boy died on 7 March 1993. Photographs taken after his death show burns over most of his body inflicted by urine and septicaemia.

The report says signs that the children were neglected were ignored for more than a decade by dozens of professionals who, while recognising the family lived in "Dickensian" conditions, failed to work together or communicate.

In 1980 the eldest child was described by a health visitor as "grossly overweight" - a sign of neglect. At school, the children were ostracised for being dirty, and other parents provided clothes. The family also consistently failed to keep hospital or doctors' appointments.

One one occasion the mother and some of the children were seen begging by a school nurse. On another occasion school staff took food to the family because of concern.

Failure to recognise these early signs set the tone for the next 13 years, in which there was little attempt to hear the views of the children, the report says.

Information about the family's history went unrecognised or unreported and professionals accepted at "face value" the parents' claims that it would be better not to involve social workers.

Islington Area Child Protection Committee said in a statement that steps had been taken by all agencies to review services following internal inquiries. Changes were in place or in hand.

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