Essex

Baby Robert's Southend death: Protection agencies failed

Child protection is being improved after failures in the care of a baby found dead next to his alcoholic mother in Essex, a council has claimed.

The 34-day-old child, identified only as Baby Robert, died in Southend in 2009 following mistakes by agencies responsible for his care.

A serious case review found there had been "general lack of child protection focus".

Southend Council said lessons had been learned since the review in April 2010.

The cause of Baby Robert's death was given as "sudden infant death syndrome" but a review was launched into the involvement of various agencies responsible for caring for him.

Increased workload

Baby Robert's mother was homeless and had consumed a "large amount of alcohol" the night before his death.

"Baby Robert was lying with her when he was found dead," the report said.

She had a history of drink and mental health issues and a number of criminal convictions.

The review found agencies including primary care services, the probation service and health visitors "failed to recognise the safeguarding needs of Baby Robert".

The report by the borough council's Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) said the child protection workload had grown heavier after the death in 2007 of baby Peter Connelly, originally known as Baby P.

Chris Doorly, the LSCB chairman, said: "The serious case review into the Baby Robert case was not an end in itself, but a step on the way to ensuring that professionals responsible for the care of vulnerable children achieve the highest quality of practice, both individually and collectively."

The review was published in April 2010 but details have only now emerged.

It was not "proactively" made public at the time because of concerns for the family, Ms Doorly said.

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