9:22am Wednesday 20th August 2014
By Jane Leigh
MORE should have been done to protect the children of a couple from the Stroud area who suffered ‘appalling neglect’, a case review has concluded.
A Serious Case Review (SCR) was commissioned in light of the case, which resulted in the couple being jailed for two years each for the wilful neglect of their five children.
During the review Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board (GSCB) took into account the evidence heard during criminal proceedings at Gloucester Crown Court as well as evidence from the sentencing remarks, a psychotherapist’s remarks, and additional views from Stroud District Housing.
At the trial the court heard how the children “suffered terribly” at the hands of the married couple between July 2007 and December 2012.
Throughout that time the family lived in a filthy, stinking house, despite teachers, social workers and health professionals all reporting signs of problems including malnutrition, lice and flea infestation.
It was only when one child went to hospital with severe nappy rash that the scale of the neglect was realised.
At a press briefing yesterday, David McCallum, chairman of the GSCB, explained that the neglect was able to continue for so long because of the parents’ “disguised compliance”.
He explained that the parents would sparingly give information to different agencies such as social services, the school and the NHS, and in some cases refuse for their information to be shared across agencies.
“This obviously makes it very difficult to build up a picture of neglect because not everyone is aware that other agencies have already raised concerns however we are now so much better equipped to deal with these types of cases,” he added.
“The suffering and harm of these children should have been recognised much earlier so that more urgent action could have been taken."
Leader of the Labour Group at Gloucestershire County Council, Lesley Williams, who represents Stonehouse, said she was saddened to read the serious case review that has been published.
“Action to protect these children should have been taken earlier but I am pleased that they are now safe and well,” she added.
“We all need to understand the impact of long term neglect and ensure professionals work together more effectively in the future. I know that this is an issue across the country. The nature of this work is complex and there are no simple solutions.
“I am pleased to see that decisive action has already been taken to improve our response to neglect and the other issues raised in this report.
“I shall be looking for continuous improvement and monitoring progress in the future.
“I must offer my support to our staff and other professionals who are often working in the most challenging circumstances, they must have the confidence to make the right professional judgements.”
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