South East Wales

Girl, 16, who died of overdose was let down says MP

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA review of how the case was handled was critical of Bridgend council and South Wales Police

A 16-year-old from Bridgend who died from an overdose was let down by the agencies which should have protected her, according to Madeleine Moon MP.

A review of how the case was handled was critical of Bridgend council and South Wales Police.

The girl was on a protection register but when she died she was living with a man in his late-20s, a drug user.

Police say plans are in place to address issues and the council says arrangements have improved.

A serious case review was carried out into the case.

That review found there were serious concerns for her welfare and that she was sexually exploited by men who were much older than her, and she was often found under the influence of alcohol.

The girl was placed on the child protection register in 2007 until 2009.

She was then placed with a foster family where she stayed for just 10 weeks at the end of 2010.

When she took a drug overdose emergency services were called, but they arrived too late and it was considered she had been dead for several hours. An inquest into her death returned an open verdict.

The review found more than 20 areas of concern including that the council failed to comply with the law because the Children's Act states a child is a child until they are 18 years of age.

It found there was poor quality assessment and flawed decision making, there was also a failure to investigate and prosecute the men who were abusing her.

'No investigation or prosecution'

In all there were 52 recommendations in the report including the need to improve training, a need to review the systems in place and to also look into communication between different agencies.

The review also found that some recommendations made after the Victoria Climbie case (the death of the eight-year old in 2000 helped lead to the Children Act 2004) were not adhered to.

Mrs Moon told BBC Radio Wales: "Throughout her life, agencies would have known about this girl. I doubt her emotional level was much more than a six or a seven year old."

She said the girl "should have been removed from those men, removed from their access and abuse of her, and she wasn't".

She added: "What worries me in particular is there seems to have been no investigation or prosecution of these men and there's an indication in the report that other children could be at risk from them.

"That is just totally unacceptable."

South Wales police said plans are in place to address the issues raised in the review.

Bridgend County Borough Council said it had already improved the arrangements of child protection conferences.

The Independent Foster Care Services said it provided a warm home for the girl and said it was not their choice for her to leave.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites