Birmingham children’s director rebuts ‘hit squad’ claims

Eight children who were known to Birmingham Council children’s services died over the past three years, the local authority has confirmed.

The figure was released following last month’s annual performance assessment. This rated the council’s safeguarding services as inadequate, prompting the Department for Children, Schools and Families to announce that the government would intervene.

Birmingham’s director of children’s services Tony Howells today rebutted press reports that a government “hit squad” had been sent into the council. He said the council had been “working closely” with the government to improve safeguarding since the performance assessment.

“Whilst the death of every child is a tragedy, the number of deaths in Birmingham has not increased annually,” he added.

The council came under attack following the death of seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq last May. Her mother and stepfather were charged with her murder and the case is ongoing.

Concerns over high vacancy rates in children’s social work were also raised a month before Khyra died .

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