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Hamzah Khan: Children's Minister highlights 'glaring absences'

Hamzah Khan
Image caption Hamzah Khan was deprived of food and drink over a period of years by his alcoholic mother

A report into the death of four-year-old Hamzah Khan has been strongly criticised by Children's Minister Edward Timpson.

He highlighted 10 "glaring absences" from the serious case review carried out after Hamzah's death.

In a letter to Prof Nick Frost, the independent chairman of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, he said he had "deep concerns" over the review.

Below is an abridged version of the 10 points raised in Mr Timpson's letter.

'Domestic violence'

December 2006

One of Hamzah Khan's siblings spoke to the police about domestic violence at home and the police referred him to children's social care. The child returned home.

Was the child assessed? If not, why not?

'Foster carers'

March 2007

One of Hamzah Khan's siblings was remanded by magistrates and placed with foster carers for two nights, then returned home.

Was the child assessed by children's social care? If not, why not?

'Running away from father'

Image caption Hamzah Khan's father Aftab said he was "pushed to one side" by the police and social services

May 2007

The child who appeared before magistrates was injured while running away from his father.

While in hospital he requested help to live away from his family and was referred to children's social care.

He was given emergency accommodation but returned home by the end of May.

The review says that a statutory assessment could have been expected at this point. Was the child assessed? If not, why not?

'Under the influence of an unknown substance'

April 2009

Three of the Khan children were not collected from primary school.

Following a welfare visit, police reported to children's social care that there were insufficient beds for at least one of the children in the house and the mother appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance.

The serious case review says that a statutory assessment could have been expected at this point.

Why was no assessment undertaken?

'Difficulties seeing the children'

Late 2010

Image caption During Hutton's trial, the court heard of the "breathtakingly awful" conditions she lived in

The review refers to "correspondence" between health visitors, education, early childhood services and children's social care "which centred on the difficulties in seeing the children".

This was followed by reports (it is unclear from whom) that some of the children were living outside Bradford.

What action did children's social care take at this point?

'Physically neglected'

January 2011

The school attended by one of Hamzah Khan's siblings in Year 8 reported to children's social care that attendance had fallen to 51% and apparently (it is not clear from the serious case review) reported that the child appeared physically neglected.

Children's social care decided this was a school attendance issue and declined to assess. Why?

'Anonymous referral'

March 2011

An anonymous report was made to police of shouting and swearing at children.

Why did children's social care rely on the education social network report that concerns did not appear substantiated as the younger children had been "placed in Portsmouth". Why did they undertake no further inquiries of their own?

'Invisible'

Mr Timpson states that the serious case review alludes to "the extent to which Hamzah was unknown and invisible to services throughout his short life".

The review makes clear that local agencies had concerns about the poor attendance of some of Hamzah's siblings.

What actions were taken, and when, to establish the causes of this?

What, if any, consideration was given to the possibility of neglectful parenting being a factor in low attendance?

'Not registered with a GP'

The review refers to attempts "to establish the whereabouts of the three youngest children after the health visitor initially identified that Hamzah was not registered with a GP".

What form did these attempts take? Given that the children did not appear to have left Bradford, what prevented the children's whereabouts being established quickly?

Visits to children's home

The serious case review refers to children's social care making a number of visits to the children's home.

What were the outcomes of these visits,? Did conversations take place with the children and was there any follow up?

If no action was taken, why not?

Image caption The kitchen in Amanda Hutton's house had rubbish all over the floor and drink bottles on the surfaces

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