The abduction of Shannon Matthews could not have been foreseen by social workers or other professionals involved with the case, a serious case review has confirmed.
Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board published the review’s executive summary today, concluding that while the family had been known to social services for several years before the kidnapping, professionals could not be held responsible. The review said the abduction was an “unusual, unexpected and challenging event”.
Alison O’Sullivan, chair of the board at the time the review was initiated, said: “The whole nation was gripped by the story of Shannon’s disappearance and the whole nation was shocked when the truth behind her disappearance became clear.
“This was an extraordinary and unique case and, of course, two people are now in prison for the part they played. Both of those people are individuals whom Shannon should have been able to trust.”
The review not only looks at Shannon’s case, but also that of four of her siblings between 1995 and 2008.
According to the summary, individual management reviews indicated that the impact of neglectful parenting was unlikely to have met the threshold criteria for care orders for any of the five children in the family examined.
While the review did not blame any practitioners, it did raise concerns about dealing with sibling groups and ensuring the needs of every child were looked after.
Long-term planning was also highlighted as an area for improvement, because the review concluded that the solutions put in place for the family were very short-term.
Although the government said this SCR would be published in full along with the cases of Baby P, the Edlington torture case and Khyra Ishaq, a date has not been set for when this will happen. The executive summary of the Khyra Ishaq case has yet to be released by Ofsted.