‘People with a similar level of need to Steven Hoskin would not receive services now’

Steven Hoskin, 39, who had learning difficulties was murdered by his flatmates in St Austell, Cornwall on 6 July 2006. He was forced to swallow a lethal dose of paracetamol, hauled around his bedsit by a dog collar and burned with cigarettes. Hoskin’s body was found at the base of the St Austell railway viaduct.

Cornwall’s director of adult social care Carol Tozer told Community Care in December the council was conducting an investigation following two damning reviews identifying more than 40 missed opportunities by agencies to protect Hoskin.

Now, a social care worker who knew Hoskin has written to Community Care arguing that Hoskin, who was assessed as having low needs, would not receive a council service now Cornwall’s eligibility criteria are set at “substantial”. The author has asked to remain anonymous.

“For a number of years I have been working in adult social care in Cornwall. I met Steven, as did a number of my colleagues. We were all devastated at what happened to him. When you feel you have done your best as I’m sure we all do, and something like that happens, it takes some recovering from, especially when we are frequently reminded both publicly and in-house. I’m equally sure we have all revisited our input and questioned whether we could have done more.

Ironically, if someone with a similar level of needs presented to us now, at a time when we provide services only to those with substantial or critical needs, we would not be providing services.

Earlier in my career I worked in child care, in a family centre for a voluntary organisation. We offered a drop in to families and their children, we outreached into communities where social services directed us. In other words we picked up on those cases that the statutory agencies could not. We offered a preventative service.

In Cornwall now we could do with a similar approach from the voluntary agencies. In fact we could have done with that kind of support over the past few years. The reports into his death show that Steven made frequent approaches to various agencies at different times, demonstrating a need and an uncertainty on his part as to who to turn to, and an equal level of uncertainty on the agencies part as to whether they were ‘it’.

Voluntary agencies need to be brought into the discussions as to how many more Stevens there may be out there throughout the country and what role they could take in meeting this low level of need.”

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