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Dad of baby found dead had conviction for child cruelty
A REVIEW has found that social services were unaware that the father of a baby who was found dead at a Southampton home with a fractured skull, had a previous conviction for child cruelty.
Paramedics were called to the address after the three month old was found faced down in a moses basket in September 2011.
A post mortem concluded the infant, known as Child G in the report, had died from Sudden Death Syndrome with what were described as “non-accidental injuries” namely a fractured skull.
An examination was also carried out on the baby's twin, referred to as Child H, which identified a leg fracture and a possible healing skull fracture.
Due to the injuries the surviving twin was taken into care and both parents arrested. However, no charges were ever brought.
A serious case review was subsequently launched to discover whether the authority could have done more to prevent the death or injury to the sibling.
As a result of their findings, calls have now been made for a national register to be kept so that people who have been convicted of violent crimes against children can be tracked.
It found failings in the way information was shared by the police, probation service and between health professionals which could have alerted the authorities to the background of both parents.
Published today the report highlights how the city council was unaware that the father of the twins had served a year in prison after being convicted of fracturing the skull of his son who he had from a previous relationship.
The prosecution of the case, which happened in another part of the country, heard how the youngster had received injuries from the age of about four or five weeks and in all had five fractures to his body.
Following his release from prison the man moved to Hampshire and subsequently to Southampton where he ceased to be monitored when he completed his probation with no concerns raised.
He was told that he should contact the local authority should he have any children in the future.
The report also highlights how Hampshire police did not pass on the conviction to Southampton City Council when the couple applied for housing due to “confusion” relating to how the information was recorded on the National Police Record service.
The babies' mother also had a background of depression and both parents had a history of self harm which again was unknown to social services as records were not transferred when the couple changed GP practices.
It also outlines how health professionals dealing with the pregnancy did not adequately investigate the background of the parents.
It states: “To leave important questions about background information unanswered on an assessment form is an unprofessional and potentially dangerous practice.”
However, the SCR also states “it was difficult to see what alternative or additional actions could have been undertaken” in this particular case.
The author of the Serious Case Review recommends that the LSCB should formally support a recommendation that new arrangements be established at national level to register offenders who have committed violent offences against children. These arrangements would require offenders to record their address with the Police and be subject to monitoring arrangements for specified periods of time.
Keith Makin, the new Independent Chair of the Southampton LSCB, said: “This tragic case highlights a number of important learning points for LSCB partners as they seek to improve services for children in Southampton.
“It also highlights an important national issue: how - in the absence of a national register - agencies can best track the risks posed by offenders who have committed violent crimes against children. We have written to the Home Office about this and in the meantime our colleagues in the LSCB partner organisations are working together to develop our systems locally.”