Deaths highlight inter-agency failings

services departments’ child protection practices and joint working arrangements
have come under the media spotlight again following three more child deaths.

In the Isle of Wight, an inquiry has been
launched by the social services department into a 12-year-old girl who starved
to death.

Charlotte Collett weighed three and a half
stone when she died 10 weeks after being removed from school. Her mother has
since been sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Isle of Wight Council said the family was not
known to social services, although its education department had been told that
Charlotte had been removed from school.

Morris Barton, a member of East Cowes Council
said: "There is not enough joined-up thinking going on. If a child is
taken out of school then there must be enough support for her and her

Meanwhile, Waltham Forest Council in London
is investigating claims that social services failed to respond to reports of an
unregistered childminder two years before a baby choked to death in her care.

A detective told an inquest into the death
last year of four-month-old Sean Opoku that a mental health worker had twice
warned that a woman previously ordered by the council to stop childminding was
continuing in the role. The council had last ordered Jennifer Allen to stop
childminding in 1989 following concerns about her abilities, but said it had no
record of further warnings.

In Cumbria, the local area child protection committee
has announced that a part 8 review is under way after a mother was found guilty
this week of the attempted murder of her son. Michael Dickinson, who died in
October 2000 after being poisoned by his mother with anti-epileptic medicines
for four years, was known to Cumbria’s education and social services

Michael had been diagnosed as having a
serious illness by health professionals. This may have influenced the handling
of his case by education officers and social workers.

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