Agencies failed children of parents jailed for sexual abuse

Northamptonshire social workers, health visitors and police failed to protect three children whose parents were convicted of  sexual abuse and posting pornographic images on the internet, a serious case review has found.

Professionals did not use child protection procedures or put the needs of the children first, the review by the Northamptonshire local safeguarding children board said.

The mother, who had a moderate learning disability, and her partner were convicted and jailed last year. The family had been known to services for two years before their arrest.

When the first child was a year old, the family were referred to children and young people’s services and health professionals became “increasingly worried” about their care, the review found.

In the summer of 2006, the mother’s partner admitted that the couple had downloaded and saved a DVD containing pornographic images of children, but child protection procedures were not used.

Home conditions deteriorated

Following the birth of the second child, a health visitor and social worker continued regular visits and were concerned that the children were being physically neglected. The family refused services to address the issues, the review published yesterday found.

In March 2007, the home conditions and treatment of the first child “deteriorated”, and the mother fell pregnant again. Another referral to the children and young people’s service was made, and the family were visited by a health visitor and social worker.

But in November 2007, the parents were arrested after Northamptonshire police recieved information from the US FBI indicating that they were involved in downloading abusive images of children. The children, aged three months, 18 months and five months, are now in foster care.

Northamptonshire council said it had launched a “far-reaching” action plan to minimise the risk of similar cases happening again.

Paul Burnett, corporate director for children and young people’s services, said: “This was a deeply disturbing and upsetting case and it is vital for all agencies and organisations involved in these findings to make very real changes to our ways of working.”

More information

Northamptonshire County Council

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