Nottinghamshire social workers criticised in serious case review

Christopher Atkins Image copyright Notts Police
Image caption Christopher Atkins left the girl with life-threatening injuries

A serious case review has criticised a county council's child social care team after a girl under five was sexually and physically abused.

Christopher Atkins, 31, from Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire was jailed for 17 years in 2013 for sexual assault.

The child suffered life-threatening injuries inflicted by Atkins in 2011.

A review has now said risk checks on him should have been carried out earlier but conceded that these alone would not have predicted the abuse.

The girl, who cannot be named to protect her identity, had been in Nottinghamshire for nine weeks and was already subject to a protection plan because of neglect.

Her abuse was only discovered when she was taken to hospital with severe internal injuries, external bruising and scalding.

A review by the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board criticised the council for delaying assessments of the girl, particularly after her social worker was taken ill.

The report also raised concerns about background checks not being done and the girl's previous injuries and sudden weight loss being overlooked.

'Regrettable' failures

Board chairman, Chris Few said: "I commissioned the serious case review to examine the involvement of Nottinghamshire agencies with this child as there were concerns this should have been more effective.

"The checks should have been done in the early stages when the child moved to Nottinghamshire but they weren't."

However, he said, it was clear that even with checks the abuse could not have been predicted as they did not highlight any risks that Atkins posed.

The board made recommendations for the council to improve its assessment practice, particularly on adults in contact with a child.

Steve Edwards, service director for children's social care at the county council, said it was "regrettable" that checks were not done earlier.

He said: "This was a horrific abuse by Atkins. He is responsible - not the social worker that went off sick.

"It was abhorrent to all of us what had happened to the child but there was nothing that social workers could have done to predict it."

Mr Edwards said the girl was now "secure and settled in a loving family".

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