Dumfries admits child murder errors

A social work director has admitted that mistakes were made in
the case of a father who was found guilty of killing two of his
young children.

Keith Makin, director of social work for Dumfries and Galloway
Council and chairperson of the area child protection committee,
said that mistakes made in the case in 1995 would now be prevented
by council changes introduced in 2000.

Ian Metcalfe was found guilty at Edinburgh High Court last week
of the culpable homicide of Kyle (11 weeks) in 1988 and Dylan (five
months) in 1996. He was also found guilty of assaulting and
asphyxiating a third child who cannot be named for legal reasons in
1989. All incidents took place in Dumfries and Galloway.

In 1995, the family were in contact with the social work
department after Dylan was found to have unexplained bruises. The
department decided not to place the child on the child protection
register but to maintain informal contact.

Makin said: “These tragic events took place several years ago
and much has changed since then. I am confident that the way we
deal with child protection and the links between agencies are much
stronger and more secure now. But no one can promise to keep
children safe in the face of sustained evil.”

A spokesperson for the child protection charity Children 1st
said: “This case highlights the reasons why we support the need for
a comprehensive child death review in all cases of unexpected death
of a youngster. While such an investigation may cause distress, if
it was carried out routinely parents would be less likely to feel

The Scottish executive is carrying out a national review of
child protection procedures, which is due to report in the

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