Hertfordshire social services failed eight-year-old Rexford Boateng, who hanged himself in 2008, through poor quality assessments, frequent changes in staff and an inadequate response to child protection concerns, the serious case review has concluded.
Boateng had been known to nine different agencies, including social services, but his case was closed just months before he died. His death, however, took officials by surprise.
“Rexford was making progress before his death, with the support of his school, and there were no recorded concerns and nothing to suggest the tragedy that was to come,” a council spokesman said.
“However prior to that time, when Rexford and his family were involved with children’s social care, there were opportunities to help him more, and we didn’t work effectively enough.”
The published executive summary from the safeguarding children board states that the history of the case led the safeguarding children board to believe that “abuse or neglect could have been a factor in the death”. However, it fails to go into any more detail than this.
According to the summary, Boateng “was regularly let down by services, particularly by Hertfordshire children’s social care services”. Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were also criticised in the report, which says the services’ response was “not sufficient” because it relied upon a positive response from Boateng’s parents rather than an assessment of the risks to the child to determine the intervention.
Recommendations in the SCR included the introduction of monitoring of plans to deal with known staff shortages. The board also said conference outcomes and child protection plans should be shared with key family members.