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Hampshire council apologises after death of three-week-old baby
A HAMPSHIRE council has apologised for failings in its support to the family of a three-week-old baby who died after being made subject of a child protection plan.
A serious case review has criticised Portsmouth City Council for its planning and care provided to the girl, known as Child D, who died in December 2011 of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy.
She was made subject to formal child protection arrangements as well as her four older half-siblings after two of them suffered ''significant physical harm as infants''.
The review states: ''At the time of her death the courts had made Child D subject to an interim supervision order and she was living within the extended family. On the night that she died she had been left sleeping in circumstances which were not safe. Her death did not result in any criminal prosecution.''
The review found that her death may have been prevented if ''safe sleeping'' advice had been followed although no concerns were raised by the care provided by her family.
But it found ''multiple weaknesses'' in how the injuries to the children were investigated and how the family was subsequently supported.
The review states: ''Concerns included lack of basic record-keeping, over-reliance on inexperienced and temporary staff, and elementary errors in the application of legal processes.
''The poor quality of legal advice and support contributed to delay and confusion throughout the conduct of the legal case.''
In response to the report Julian Wooster, director of children's and adults' services at Portsmouth City Council, said: ''My sympathies remain with the family of Child D at her very sad death.
''This serious case review looked in detail at how agencies, including the council, provided support to the family since 2004. It found many ways that services provided by organisations, including the council, could have been improved, although it also acknowledges that many of our practices have changed in that time.
''We accept the recommendations in the review that apply to Portsmouth City Council and have taken robust steps to improve our performance in all the areas highlighted.
''We fully recognise that the support the council provided for this family could have been better organised and we apologise for this.
''The action plan we have developed and implemented in response to this review has included increasing the number of solicitors dedicated to child protection work. It also ensures there is close scrutiny of arrangements before a child is placed with a family member.''
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