Children’s services partly to blame over toddler’s death

Wolverhampton children's services failed to intervene in the case of Ryan Lovell-Hancox, who was killed by two carers on Christmas Eve 2008, according to the serious case review (SCR) published today.

Wolverhampton children’s services failed to intervene in the case of Ryan Lovell-Hancox, who was killed by two carers on Christmas Eve 2008, according to the serious case review (SCR) published today.

The child died in hospital from a brain injury he received at the West Midlands home of Christopher Taylor and Kayley Boleyn, who have been tried and jailed for life for the killing. Both were known to child protection services at the time of Ryan’s death. Ryan’s mother paid the couple about £20 a week to look after Ryan while she decorated her home.

The SCR pointed to a lack of adequate record-keeping as one of the main shortcomings in the case, saying: “If the records had been in place there is a chance that action would have been taken to remove [Ryan] from [Boleyn’s] flat, but that is not certain.”

Another major shortcoming highlighted by the review was that adult mental health services did not carry out their functions with children’s interests in mind. Taylor was discharged from mental health care just two months before Ryan’s death “as a person who, in principle, was likely to pose a risk to children”, the review said.

There were no particular children known to be in Taylor’s life, so there was no notification of his discharge to other agencies. The review concluded this was wrong.

“What is needed is a more active awareness that unidentified children as well as identified children need to be considered by agencies as within the scope of the Children Act 2004 duties,” the review said.

Wolverhampton council has apologised for its part in the incident.

Mr Bill Anderson, Chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board said today: “I would like to say on behalf of myself and all the members of the board how much we regret and are deeply sorry that the work of the board and our agencies failed to protect this little boy.

“Such a tragedy is rare but that in itself only makes the failure of agencies to protect vulnerable children seem all the greater, and within that failure we must vigorously and openly ask what we can do to ensure there are no such further tragedies for children and their families.”

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