Stricter checks after young boy’s death

conviction of Simon and Michelle McWilliam for cruelty to their
adopted son last week highlights the importance of thorough checks
and assessments for prospective adoptive parents, according to
British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering.

executive Felicity Collier said: “Last year BAAF reviewed the way
adopters’ assessments were undertaken and we were concerned that
too great a reliance was being placed in many cases on the account
adopters gave of their own background rather than careful checks
being made from other sources.”

Smith died in December last year aged four. Four adult bite marks
and 54 bruises and abrasions were identified on his body. His
adoptive parents were sentenced to eight years each at Lewes Crown

procedures at Brighton and Hove Council – which was responsible for
placing John with the McWilliams – have since been rigorously
tightened, and a new format for assessing prospective adopters was
launched in September requiring more factual checks and independent

changes follow the findings of an independent part 8 review
commissioned by Brighton and Hove and West Sussex area child
protection committees, which echoed BAAF’s calls for adoption
assessments to be more robust.

and Hove social services director and area child protection
committee chairperson Allan Bowman said: “All the agencies involved
have learned lessons and are implementing major improvements in the
way we look after children in our care.

workers and health professionals, like everyone else, make
mistakes. In this case the consequences were horrendous, but we
should not forget that the professionals get it right most of the

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