SOUTHAMPTON’S social services have been condemned in three shocking reports that reveal how ten children in the city slipped through their net.
Two little boys are now dead, one girl was found with 92 injuries and drugs in her system, while seven children from one family suffered abuse at the hands of their own father.
In all three cases social services failed to protect them and today senior officials have issued apologies to all the children involved.
But despite the failings, it is understood no disciplinary action was taken against council staff, many of whom have retired or moved on to jobs in other parts of the country.
Last night Councillor Mark Chaloner, appointed Cabinet member for children’s safeguarding in December, was unable to confirm the lack of official action.
It comes after the service was labelled “inadequate” in 2011 after errors led to the deaths of four boys, including Jayden and Bradley Adams, aged two and four respectively, who are the subjects of one of today’s reports.
Inquests into the deaths of the Adams brothers and seven-year-old Blake Fowler also saw the service come under fierce criticism by the coroner.
Today the Daily Echo can reveal Shelly Adams, once arrested on suspicion of smothering sons Bradley and Jayden, will not face any criminal charges as the serious case review into their deaths could only be published once any case against her was dropped.
Cllr Chaloner said: “There has been a thorough investigation and the CPS have decided they do not believe there is enough evidence to prosecute. There is no new evidence that has come out in this review that can change that.” He added we will “never know” what led to their deaths.
In 2011 Labour criticised the Tory administration for relying too heavily on agency staff to flesh out social services jobs.
But the reports released today confirm these failings continued after Labour won back control in 2012, with two cases occurring in late 2012 and early 2013.
And the incidents were so serious that parents in both cases have been jailed – although the reports fail to reveal what they were convicted for and the sentences they received.
Alison Elliott, city council director of people, issued an apology on behalf of the council to all affected by the failings.
She said: “I would like to apologise for the failings of the city council at the time of the deaths of Bradley and Jayden Adams in 2011, and also in relation to the harm suffered by Child L and the children of Family A.
“We were failing to safeguard children and urgent action was needed to radically transform the service. This work started over a year ago and has been the council’s top priority.”
Changes have been made to the make-up of the service, with the number of agency staff drastically reduced.
Previously 50 per cent of the 150 child social worker jobs were carried out by temporary workers, but that figure is now just ten per cent.
Meanwhile as reported by the Daily Echo, a multi-agency safeguarding hub was launched in March to ensure daily meetings on child protection between the council, health bodies and the police.
The serious case reviews were undertaken by Southampton Safeguarding Children Board and were severely critical.
Keith Makin, board chairman, said: “I would like to say how sorry we are to those who did not get the help they needed and for the suffering of these children.
“The overall findings of these serious case reviews showed significant failings. There are important lessons for Southampton City Council and our other local agencies to learn.”
He added: “The professionals involved with these families failed to communicate adequately with each other and did not follow correct procedures and practice to safeguard children. This level of failure is unacceptable.”
But these are not the only children failed by the service, as the council confirmed that two more serious case reviews are to come, including one into the death of seven-year-old Blake Fowler, which is likely to be published in the autumn.