Devon

Death of Torbay two-year-old criticised in case review

An independent report has criticised authorities in Torbay over the death of a two-year-old girl.

The toddler, known as Child 24, died in hospital in 2010 after she was found unresponsive at home.

A serious case review said the girl had lived in squalid conditions and her case was not treated seriously enough.

Torbay Council's Children's Services and the local Safeguarding Children Board said it was a "tragic death" and they were working to learn lessons.

Faeces-covered bottle

Child 24, the second child of an 18-year-old woman, had episodes while a baby when she stopped breathing.

The family was also known to police due to domestic violence incidents, and health visitors and social workers found the woman's children living in squalid conditions, the report said.

On one visit, she and her bottle were found covered in faeces. However, the case was closed.

Even after the family was re-housed and officials were told that the children were rarely fed and often locked in a room while adults smoked cannabis, it was felt that the concerns of neglect were not substantiated.

Child 24 was later admitted to hospital after being found lifeless at home.

She was believed to have sustained serious brain damage and died two days later.

Best protection

The cause of her death has not been definitively established but the report said no agency had a clear understanding of the neglect.

It added that, although there was no evidence that anyone deliberately failed the children, there was an authority-wide systematic failure.

The independent chairman of Torbay's Safeguarding Children Board, Bob Spencer, who ordered the serious case review, said the board strived to ensure lessons were learned in child protection by appropriately commissioning such reviews.

The council's acting director of Children's Services, Richard Williams, said an improvement plan was being put in place "to ensure that we give them [children] the best protection possible".

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