THE work done to protect a child suspected of being sexually abused in his family has been branded as “ineffective”, a report has revealed.

A serious case review found that “Freddie”, an eight year old child, had “a long history of contact and involvement with statutory services” in Southampton “due to concerns about neglect and harmful sexual behaviours”.

But a plan to protect him “was mostly ineffective” due to a number of reasons including “inadequate management oversight from Children’s Services” .

Southampton Safeguarding Children Partnership said the shortcomings identified are “regrettable”.

Southampton City Council apologised “for the failings of the council” and said “a great deal of work has been done already”.

The review found that Freddie was taken into local authority care after concerns about neglect and “harmful sexual behaviours”.

Whilst in care, Freddie made a number of statements about sexual

abuse by family members, as well as providing information about other sexual abuse that had taken place within the family, the report revealed.

According to the review, the police also launched an investigation  but “ no further action was to be taken”.

Freddie was subject to a Child Protection Plan but “this was mostly ineffective, offered little additional safety to Freddie and siblings”.

The review revealed there was “considerable drift,” due to a number of factors including “ a collective uncertainty across the professional network about how to best manage the risks to Freddie, delays in assessment work being completed, sympathy for the Mother’s situation distracting the professional view about the children’s safety and welfare, and inadequate management oversight from Children’s Services – who held lead responsibility for the Child Protection Plan”.

Sandy Hopkins, chief executive at the city council, said: “I would like to apologise for the failings of the council with regards to the support provided to Freddie and his family in the period up to and including 2016. We accept the findings and are working closely with our partners to provide a consistent standard of children’s safeguarding.. A great deal of work has been done already since 2016, but there is still more to do. Since the time of the review we have changed our ways of working to improve how child protection plans are progressed, including increased regular review and scrutiny by senior managers.”

Ms Hopkins said a number of other actions such as new training for social workers have also been taken.

Derek Benson, Independent Chair of the Southampton Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: “The shortcomings identified in the support provided to Freddie and his family are made clear in this report and are regrettable. I would like to provide reassurance on behalf of the partnership that the areas of learning and improvement are being used to make improvements to services and that recommendations are already being implemented.Protecting children is complex and demanding work and this Serious Case Review demonstrates that. The Southampton Safeguarding Children Partnership is committed to the continuous improvement of services. We are using the report’s findings and recommendations to ensure the necessary improvements are delivered to safeguard children”.