Highlands & Islands

Review of child protection safeguards in Highlands

Amanda Hardie
Image caption Amanda Hardie was jailed for 10 months after admitting neglecting her two-year-old son Clyde Campbell, who subsequently died

A review is to be carried out into child protection safeguards in the Highlands following the death of a two-year-old boy in Inverness.

Clyde Campbell died in February 2014, in a case of sudden infant death, or cot death.

His mother, Amanda Hardie, was jailed in May after admitting to neglecting him over a five month period.

Highland Council said she refused to give her consent to work in partnership with the named person scheme.

The Highlands is among the areas where named person has been operating ahead of it coming into force across Scotland in August.

In a statement, Highland Council's director of care and learning, Bill Alexander, said the review would be carried out by the Highland Child Protection Committee.

It follows an investigation by the Press and Journal newspaper into the role the named person policy played in Clyde's case.

'Own desires'

Hardie, 30, of East Kilbride, pleaded guilty to neglecting Clyde and exposing him to unnecessary suffering while they were living in a flat in Inverness.

Jailing her for 10 months at Inverness Sheriff Court, Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood said she had "placed her own desires, work and socialising ahead" of her child's.

The court had earlier heard that medical enquiries established "no clinical basis" to link the neglect to Clyde's death.

Hardie pleaded guilty to wilfully ill-treating, abandoning, neglecting and exposing the child to unnecessary suffering or injury in her flat in Inverness between 1 October 2013 and 23 February 2014.

The charge went on to say she left him for prolonged periods and in particular during the hours of darkness whilst unattended and without adult supervision.

In Highland Council's statement, Mr Alexander said: "Amanda Hardie had a duty of care towards her children which she chose to ignore, not only on the night of Clyde's tragic death but on several other occasions.

"The named person role involves early support to children and families. As part of the Getting It Right for Every Child Programme, it has helped reduce the number of children who are at risk in the Highland area.

"A named person works with the consent of parents, and would have been there to support Ms Hardie, if she had been willing to work in partnership.

"However, while Ms Hardie chose not to seek support from her health visitor, other services continued to engage with her and her family."

'Refresh' guidance

Mr Alexander added: "This is a tragic case which is deeply saddening for everyone involved.

"The sheriff made clear that Ms Hardie's behaviour was not a factor in Clyde's death - however no child should experience neglect.

"The Highland Child Protection Committee is reviewing all the circumstances, and will consider any learning points identified in that review."

The named person measure, contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, aims to assign a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of children under 18.

The Scottish government says the service will act as a safety net to help families and children if they need it, to speed things up and avoid families having to speak to numerous different services.

The Scottish Conservatives have been calling for a rethink of the policy before it comes into force across the whole of Scotland.

Earlier this month, the government said it would "refresh" guidance about the scheme after acknowledging "concerns".

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