Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: case review to consider social work lessons

Couple jailed for life for brutal killing of six-year-old during lockdown as review probes how he could have been safeguarded

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (photo: West Midlands Police)

A case review will examine the lessons for social workers from the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, following a “campaign of cruelty” by his stepmother and father.

Emma Tustin was convicted of murdering her stepson, who died from a severe blow to his head in June 2020, while Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was convicted of manslaughter. Both were jailed for life today.

Coventry Crown Court heard that Solihull council social workers had visited the boy’s home two months before his death after concerns were raised by his grandmother, but they said they found no cause for concern, according to BBC News reports.

Following the boy’s death, police found a CCTV camera set up in Tustin and Hughes’ home and evidence from the pair’s mobile phones, which made a compelling case that Tustin had inflicted a fatal head injury and then failed to call an ambulance for 12 minutes.

The footage also showed that Tustin and Hughes forced Arthur to stand for hours in isolation and punished him for unauthorised movement. Due to evidence such as this, Tustin, 32, and Hughes, 29, were also convicted of several child cruelty charges.

The case has sparked widespread discussion in the media about the child protection system and why Arthur was not safeguarded from his abusers.

Solihull Safeguarding Children Partnership has commissioned a local child safeguarding practice review to examine the role of services and learn lessons.

‘Missed bruising’

The court heard that a Solihull Council social worker attended the boy’s home on 17 April 2020 and found a faint yellow bruise on his back but that he otherwise seemed “happy, playful and boisterous”, according to an earlier BBC News report.

The practitioner was later shown a photo taken the previous day by his grandmother which showed bruising on his shoulder and was unable to account for how it was missed.

A Solihull council spokesperson said: “This terrible tragedy has had a shocking impact on Arthur’s family and across the whole community. We send our heartfelt condolences to everyone affected.

“The circumstances around his death will now be subject to an independent review – the local child safeguarding practice review – and clearly it would be inappropriate for the council to comment ahead of the findings of that review.”

‘No stone unturned’

Stephen Cullen, independent scrutineer at Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: “Our focus will now be to work with the relevant partners to identify and respond to any learning from this tragic case.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said the pain and suffering Hughes and Tustin inflicted on Arthur before they killed him “almost defies belief”.

“The child safeguarding practice review must now leave no stone unturned in establishing exactly what took place before Arthur died and whether more could have been done to protect and ultimately save him. It also needs to inform a wider discussion of how we prevent these appalling cases of child cruelty from happening,” they said.

In a statement, Social Work England said: “We are deeply shocked by the events surrounding Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ death and extend our condolences to all who knew him. In such a complex, tragic case there are clearly many different lines of inquiry. We will work closely with all partners and everyone involved in the case.”

Repeated assaults

Arthur died in hospital at 1am on 17 June last year with bruising to his head and body, bleeding gums and appearing under-weight.

Paramedics had found the boy unconscious with a neighbour performing CPR on him the day before, at his home in Cranmore Road, Shirley.

Police arrested Tustin and Hughes on suspicion of murder due to the nature of the boy’s injuries and their differing accounts of the events leading to his death. Both claimed the boy had banged his own head on the floor and was poorly behaved

Officers looked through footage from a CCTV camera set up in the home as well as videos, audio files, photos and texts found on Tustin’s and Hughes’ mobile phones.

Police said this evidence revealed that Tustin and Hughes had repeatedly assaulted the boy and forced him to stand for hours on end.

Meanwhile, medical experts determined that the boy’s death had been caused by a head trauma inflicted on him by an adult, most likely being vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface.

A post-mortem later revealed that Arthur had over 100 marks and bruises on his head, body and limbs including bruising of different ages.

Hospital tests also showed the boy had abnormally high salt-levels in his system, suggesting he may have been poisoned with contaminated food or water over a longer period of time.

‘Campaign of cruelty’

Detective inspector Laura Harrison said: “An innocent boy was subjected to a campaign of cruelty by the very people who were meant to be loving and protecting him.

“Despite the lies they told, we carefully built a case against the two of them. We were able to seize their phones and found the messages they exchanged which showed their anger towards Arthur.

“As part of our investigations we were able to access their home where we found a CCTV camera set up in their living room. And the footage from that helped us build up a picture of the grim reality of Arthur’s life inside that house.”

Lockdown impact

One thing the review is likely to consider is the impact of lockdown restrictions on the risks to Arthur, a point raised by the Association of Child Protection Professionals (AoCPP).

“Arthur’s situation appears to have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the impact that lock-down restrictions had on vulnerable children and social care services,” it said. “It happened at a time when services were having to rapidly change the way they worked.

“Taking children like Arthur out of the school routine risked making them invisible to professionals and services and made other possible routes for intervention very difficult to access.”

The number of child deaths and incidents of serious harm reported by councils rose by a fifth from 2019-20 to 2020-21, according to Department for Education data, and Ofsted has warned that the onset of lockdown exacerbated risks to children.

The AoCPP added: “We have evidence of the increases in harm and abuse during early Covid restrictions and lockdown, and this coupled with the need to quickly overhaul the way services were delivered, created the perfect storm leading to a delay in the recognition and assessment of many cases.”

Structural issues and cuts

The case also prompted reflection on the more deep-rooted challenges facing child protection.

In a discussion on Radio 4’s World At One, children’s services advisers and former local authority directors Ray Jones and Alan Wood disagreed on the root causes of the risks to children.

Jones, emeritus professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, said the key issue was cuts to services over the past decade.

“Police officers, health visitors, community nurses, social workers are all struggling because of 10 years of cuts to services. That makes it difficult for us to do the job we need to do.

“We need to have the time to get to know families and find out what’s happening, we need the time to communicate well with each other and share information. And all of that gets squeezed when the imperative is to close work down to take on the new work coming in.”

Wood said that, while there was definitely a need for “significant additional investment” in children’s services, this was not the sole cause.

Specialist child protection service mooted

He said that a specialist child protection services should be considered to tackle barriers to multi-agency working and skills gaps.

“There are barriers between our professionals, between police, between mental health workers, between local authority social workers, teachers, and we are still struggling with those barriers,  and the kind of skills and techniques we need to work with children in very vulnerable and dangerous positions with families.

“I think we need to consider whether we should be specialising more in dedicated child professional workers, individuals who would have skills across all those professional areas I’ve discussed. I’m just worried that organisational imperatives, of the police service, the health service, local authorities etc will push people to think organisationally first before resolving the need of the child.”

He called on care review lead Josh MacAlister to consider the case for specialist child protection services in his inquiry. In its case for change report, published in June, the review said there was a tension between children’s services’ family support and child protection roles, and raised the question over whether they should be separated.

‘Danger of parcelling off child protection’

However, responding to Wood, Jones said: “I’d be very wary of structural change – it’s disruptive, it takes time to bed down and often we don’t give it time to produce any results before we have more structural change.

“I think there’s also an issue of thinking we should separate child protection from what social workers are doing, that police officers, that health visitors are doing every day. They are the people who need to know what’s happening in families…and not just the eyes and the years but the people who need to take action when they have concerns. If we parcel child protection off as a separate activity, we’ll actually going to find out that we’ve missed a lot of children that we ought to be concerned about because they are never known to child protection.”


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41 Responses to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: case review to consider social work lessons

  1. Fred Whiston December 3, 2021 at 3:15 pm #

    Yet another child killed at the hands of their parents/carers, and yet another “lessons” headline. When will our profession have actually learned these lessons? Answers on a postcard, please.

    • Jim C December 3, 2021 at 8:58 pm #

      Some parents kill their children and not all can be saved by social workers

      • Helen December 4, 2021 at 9:01 am #

        You say this like it’s normal and expected?

        • Tom J December 4, 2021 at 8:12 pm #

          Helen- Unless we have a total heavy handed Police State we will never be able to eliminate all deaths.

          There must not be a panicked knee jerk reaction in which social workers are pressurised to become authoritarian and completely risk averse with all the children and parents they now work with. The level of harm and collateral damage would be untold.

          • Grace December 6, 2021 at 10:27 am #

            There’s no need for authoritarianism. Thre are only two paths from alienation and ennui: complacency or cynicism. Social workers tread that path every day in a performative slow dance of ineffective despair. But this isn’t about us. A child has been murdered. How matters as much as why. If we failed we deserve opprobrium and censure, there has to be some point where the hand wringing stops. But let’s not let the great and noble leaders off the hook either. We work in a rotten set-up where reality is inverted by selected paragons who retreat from their certainties as the orthodoxy shifts and in which paper is more valuable than people. Until social work becomes a part of the communities in which it should be, atomised individual endeavours will do good in the margins while the world churns around it. “Ineffective and vindictive”. That’s what the aunt told me by the time she sorted out the “new ways of working” contact number that got my boss his MBE. Lets not make that the epitaph of this tragedy. People kill people but we shouldn’t be the impotent bystanders in the narrative of their lives. Despair, loneliness, rage, confusion and the rest of the dismal bureaucracy that engulf us shouldn’t be our norm. Self preservation in a finger pointing blame culture is smart but we should never accept how things are with a shrug. None of this is an inevitable. The people we serve and our peers are our allies. PSWs, BASW, SWE, our bossess, the Chiefs, the academics, the Directors are are just the Wizard behind the curtain. They know not what they do but we shouldn’t forgive them. A child was murdered. Let’s see if we had a part in it. Let’s hold the edifice to scrutiny also though.

        • Jim C December 4, 2021 at 10:02 pm #

          Certainly not normal but expected yes on average at least one child dies of abuse or neglect every week in the UK. (Nspcc figures) Arthur just happened to be the headline story on the news this week. Most children who die at the hands of their parents don’t get such high profile coverage.

          No child protection system in the world can irradiate all risk.

        • Nicky December 5, 2021 at 4:58 am #

          Social workers are not omnipotent although that is what is expected and of course for what we strive.
          Cuts to services do not help and when this issue has been repeatedly highlighted over decades, a lack of resolve to it defies understanding.

          More Compassion toward each other in our society might help and more community thinking as per some scandic societies????

        • Jim C December 5, 2021 at 1:21 pm #

          No not normal Helen , but one child a week is murdered by their parents. Arthur hit the headlines whereas many do not. So it is to be expected there will always be child deaths at the hands of their parents or carer givers. All risk cannot be eradicated.

        • Truth Kelly December 9, 2021 at 7:37 pm #

          Helen their are killers and paedophiles and psychopaths living in our society not all can be stopped. The state cannot stop evil.

      • Jem December 7, 2021 at 12:34 pm #

        Social Services missed the severe abuse, they saw him only 2 months before he died. He should have been saved.

        • Truth Kelly December 9, 2021 at 7:38 pm #

          Jem you don’t know what they saw or whether they could have saved him

  2. Trina Dacosta December 3, 2021 at 3:47 pm #

    Another child has died in tragic circumstances. How many more working class children have to tragically die as it seems nothing is learned from previous case reviews. Maybe it is because the questions and answers these case reviews provide don’t tell the whole story. It has to be asked why yet another child, (sadly there will be more to follow), has died in these circumstances ? Is it because the parent’s right supersede the rights of child ? . Is it because keeping the child with the parents is deemed more cost effective and saves money. . In such circumstances to truelly safeguard such vulnerable children you need to remove them to a place of safety at any sign of abuse. Those individuals who do this to children are ultimately responsible but as a society we have duty to protect children from this sadistic crulty and abuse. It comes down to political will and shift of culture which will not accept this behaviour or the lame excuses offered up in merely mouthed contrition.

    • Kelly December 4, 2021 at 6:58 am #

      I agree, parents rights supersede everything. Why is it ok to give notice of visits when concerns are raised? How does that protect these poor vulnerable children? Is it simply enabling disguised compliance? Have we not learnt this already?

    • Katie December 4, 2021 at 11:49 am #

      However we cannot ignore the pitfalls of the care system and how many children experience trauma due to this. Therefore the balance is an almost impossible one, made even more difficult by lack of funding, support from senior management and time to build thorough assessments around children and their families.

  3. Firuza December 4, 2021 at 8:03 am #

    Try doing the job, before blaming professionals, who have worked throughout the pandemic, putting them selves and their families at risk. With little time and high work load, with almost no resources.
    Its sad a child has died, his parents did this to him.

    • Mike December 5, 2021 at 1:54 pm #

      The pandemic should not be used as a reason a child died because signs were overlooked. The authorities were alerted regarding the welfare of this child and yet failed to take the necessary action. There is no excuse for this. The system failed. The reason needs to be found, and any authorities/individuals need to be held to account

  4. Carly December 4, 2021 at 8:38 am #

    A social worker cannot work in isolation and if due to lockdown he wasn’t attending school who else was seeing the child. Im fed up with social workers getting blamed. The whole system does not work, too little social workers, too many cases, too much paperwork. Parents are always going to abuse their children. If a child is to be removed it takes alot of evidence presented to the court and they may still refuse separation as research states that the best place for a child is at home with their families.

    If the blame culture continues we are not going to have a social workforce. Then who will be blamed for ongoing children abuse and deaths?

    • Luca December 4, 2021 at 11:25 pm #

      Well said. We could do more to safeguard and carry out direct work with children and families if we had a manageable caseload. Thanks

    • Nicci December 6, 2021 at 10:36 am #

      I could not agree more with Carly. We are working in a broken system, where expectations are high and caseloads unmanageable – the work cannot be done in the time we are given so many of us work in our own time for free. Any failings in the system are squarely pinned on individuals, which does nothing but drive good practitioners to scramble up the ladder and then get out. Re-structuring and re-training are bound to be responses to this when a re-think of the unrealistic expectations is what is required.
      A hairdresser can charge £80 an hour, a dog trainer £75 an hour, a plumber £60 an hour and a gardener £30 an hour. A social worker, tasked with responsibilities that involve life or death decisions within a culture of blame is paid less than £30 an hour… It is not hard to see why one day the profession will be minus a child protection workforce.

      • anon December 6, 2021 at 6:49 pm #

        Most LA social workers are paid £15-20 per. Some more experienced LA workers hour may get more like £20-25. workers.may get 30-40 but the vast majority do not.

  5. penelope December 4, 2021 at 8:40 am #

    In our team staff are devastated to read what this little person went through. The poor little child. This pandemic and children being out of school which can be their only safe place where they are seen reminds of of the priority of children over all. I find it interesting that when it is health issues we talk about funding but social care budgets and funding is cut and the workloads of my childcare colleagues, the resources, placements, even camhs or other children’s services and provisions are reduced and not sufficient to meet needs. We need to give our colleagues who don’t get credit for all the children they protect and save the tools they need to do their job and staffing to be able to monitor / check and support families. As well as a court system which is still leaving children insecure and not making orders in ‘child timescales’.
    Councils face cuts upon cuts so in my view we are all responsible for the underfunding while everything goes into the NHS.
    Council services face cuts expecting to do more when the NHS gets more and more even funding like the National insurance increases which we don’t even pretend are for social care now. When we talk about social care crisis we are talking about this too. Personally I would like to thank my childcare colleagues who work so hard – they do for no thanks and support them to raise a voice that they need proper funding the cuts have to stop. We know what the issues are, in mental health care we say too many people are being detained under the Mental Health Act so the law is wrong. It’s the lack of services and alternatives. Stop spending any money on enquiries or restructure or rewriting laws which costs a fortune – give the resource me give the councils a chance to fund services properly. Ask the experienced staff what is needed to prevent catastrophe and put the money we have there.

  6. Tahin December 4, 2021 at 9:56 am #

    Us bog standard social workers know what the lessons are. It’s the cynical never taking personal responsibility politicians, the petrified but still incompetent managers, the council tax obsessed councilors, beyond parody life sucking SWE, Chiefs of this and that looking over their shoulder to second guess their political masters, educators that say next to nothing about work realities, the forever optimistic bloggers and the rest of the edifice who have conived and colluded to reduce what should be about the lives and experiences of people to seemingly worthy but in reality trite sloganeering. How about moving from a self preservation survive today to be better tomorrow anxiety to listening to us just once so we can do a job that means something to the people we work with. How about giving us managers with confidence to validate our concerns. We get somethings wrong with catastrophic consequences and we should take our responsibility for that horror. Who takes responsibility for dehumanising our work though? Watch the rowing back to fall in line with the Daily Mail. Give up a social worker and move on. How predicable that the NSPCC leads the vilification.

  7. Katie December 4, 2021 at 11:44 am #

    So incredibly sad, a young vulnerable child who has been failed by all, especially his own caregivers who wilfully and intentionally caused his death.
    Once again children’s service are brought into question and continues the narrative that we are either too over cautious or fail to act swiftly, with never an answer over how to strike a balance.
    It will be ignored by the press and large portion of the public that children’s services have continued to work tirelessly with increasing pressures, minimal staff, high turnover and lack of supervision and management oversight. Often leaving NQSW running local authorities to meet demands.
    Expectation for ‘good practice’ to close or have families moved on with 10 working days means that social workers are not ‘allowed’ time to build rapport and do thorough direct work before making significant decisions.
    I have never met a social worker in my career who set out to do ‘poor work’, however the majority of social workers I have met are burnt out and terrified of making a mistake and doing things that are not in the best interest of children.
    Furthermore the bureaucracy and arguments that need to be had to escalate cases with senior management and judges, who have never seen the child or family in question and have been out of ‘frontline’ social work for often decades. Undermines the work and expertise of the workers at ground level.

    All this once again has meant a little boy has suffered immensely before losing his life at the hands of the people he was meant to rely on. Rest now, Arthur, you are not going to suffer anymore.

  8. Tom J December 4, 2021 at 8:05 pm #

    Interesting that there has not been a single peep from any of the government ministers and various child protection experts regarding NAAS accreditation of children’s social workers being a solution. Yet for years the government have spent considerable focus, time and £24 million pounds so far in presenting NAAS testing as some magical solution. Not to mention the energy and efforts of local authorities spent on them, Solihull being one of them interestingly.

    Constant vague promises have been made that NAAS testing will “improve outcomes for children and families” though it’s hard to see exactly how the £24 million so far has done this.

    For me the fact that not a single government minister has even mentioned NAAS when talking about the solutions shows it up for what it is.

  9. Helen grieves December 4, 2021 at 10:49 pm #

    As someone with lived experience of being assessed by childrens services cases like these will continue to happen until Social Workers act professionally and are held properly to account. I was ‘only’ investigated under s17- yes I know it is technically an assessment but being lied to about the statutory status of the case and having no input into the report or ability to get my comments on the report documented makes it seem like an investigation.
    The documentation was ridiculous, consents not obtained , basic facts wrong, rules now upheld as being unsafe and inappropriate put in place, meetings not recorded and other meetings fabricated.
    I spent 2 years working through the complaints process where more lies tried to cover things up.

    This is not a professional way to work.

    Until social workers start acting as professionals, and are managed properly cases like this will continue.

  10. Tabby December 5, 2021 at 10:27 am #

    10 minutes ago we were being told how “new ways of working” (home based, technology reliant) was a new positive from lockdown. Now there is seething over social workers having only a short contact. 10 minutes ago we were berated for not centering “co-production” as the core and urged to step back and defer to “lived experience”. Now we are accused of naivety and being played by cynical and manipulative parents. None of us know the real details of this horrible murder but most of us know that our systems and interventions are performative. Every supervision ( getting rarer) I am told I don’t listen to parents and carers enough and to be more “systemic”. 10 minutes from now we are going to be thrashed for not being ” child centered” enough. Inquiries, reports, academic pontifications, ‘experts’ blagging and the usual suspects waffling will tell us to communicate better, listen better, train better and SWE will grandstand about standards and perhaps sacrifice a social worker or two. It’s possible that inept and bewildered social workers missed what they shouldn’t have. Consequences and hindsight. A child was murdered, talk about who murdered them.

  11. Maria December 5, 2021 at 12:22 pm #

    What I find so utterly unacceptable is the fact that someone did raise the alarm and this comes up time and time again. Just how robust are the processes. I don’t know enough about the details but if there are any signs of injuries which are not explained and a family member is raising concerns the child would at the least be spoken to alone in a sensitive and skilled manner. Did this even happen . When I was a social worker you could sign off an assessment until you had spoken with the child alone

    • Tom J December 6, 2021 at 11:02 am #

      The practice of talking to the child alone has been repeatedly mentioned. However I think it warrants greater exploration in terms of what we mean.

      It is not always possible to see a child alone in school.

      So we mean talk to the child alone whilst the parents are in another room in the house? Most children like Arthur do not live in giant mansions so there is a likelihood parents will hear. I know if my child was visited I would likely want to strain to hear.

      Linked to the above would a child like Arthur really be able to talk openly with his parent/s are downstairs?

      Do we demand that parents leave the home? Does the social worker walk with the child out of the home? There can be various dynamics here.

  12. Dave White December 5, 2021 at 2:26 pm #

    Another child let down by the system.. Hope all involved think about that poor lads weeks and weeks of suffering! :0( So many chances to save him missed!

    • Tanya December 7, 2021 at 12:11 am #

      All of us are the system.

  13. adrian godwin December 5, 2021 at 2:40 pm #

    Wood .. said that a specialist child protection services should be considered to tackle barriers to multi-agency working and skills gaps.

    In order to solve problems created by multi-agency working, an additional agency should be created ?

  14. Trina Dacosta December 5, 2021 at 3:01 pm #

    I have worked within adult services for over twenty years and the amount of red tape, including duplication of paperwork is phenomenal and now acts as a major barrier to gaining access to services and addressing people’s needs. Due to the amount of form filling it means that social workers are tied to their desk whether at home or in the office 80 per cent of the time regardless of the Covid 19 Pandemic.  Sadly, this Pandemic has and can be used as a convenient excuse by some organisation to explain why this 6 year old boy died.   Before such bold claims are made  they should do their research as in some areas such as mental health and children services social workers were still undertaking visits due to the fact there would have been no other way of carrying out their job effectively. During the lockdowns we were told that those who were vulnerable would be a priority, but from my own experience I had to spend valuable time writing long emails to managers to justify undertaking visits that I considered essential as there was no other means of communicating with service users. It was never acknowledged that I would not be making such requests if I did not have concerns about the service user’s situation and there was other alternative..   At the same time my managers were concerned about preventing the transmission of Covid, but often carers day in and day out were on the front line doing their best to support the vulnerable..  This brings me to the fact that another barrier is social workers’ professional judgements are often undermined.   If they do identify concerns they do not always get the support from their managers whose priority is either saving money or closing cases when there are outstanding needs due the increasing demands of the services.  On top of this social workers are overworked and overloaded, and failure to implement protective caseloads not only potentially exposes them to risk, it also exposes the vulnerable. If LA’s can find the money to employ consultants who work through the backdoor they can certainly afford to provide social workers with a protective caseload and on top of this a stable workforce less reliant on agency staff as continuity and consistency is essential in these situations.,

  15. Michael December 6, 2021 at 11:34 am #

    A child protection system that has “risk assessment” as its core rather than make time to see and appraise the lives of the people posing or at the receiving end of “risk” will ofcourse fail. Risk is an at the moment thought whereas seeing how people live, interact, love, withdraw, rage and so on are daily and perhaps ever changing patterns that show us what should worry us. See the person and you’ll see the “risk” in more nuanced and rounded ways than the assessment indicators. So I say move away from risk and prioritise protection and engagement. Actually I agree with Grace, I was touched and moved by the humanity.

  16. Chloe December 6, 2021 at 11:44 am #

    “In which paper is more valuable than people”. Every question and every answer is there. Thank you Grace.

  17. Sab December 6, 2021 at 1:11 pm #

    It is sad that a child died and the bruising to his body (on his back) was not discussed with a paediatrician. But how many things can social workers do ??? Discuss the matter with manager, seek advice from manager and then act upon the advice to speak to the health professionals.
    Management should do more work rather than simply advising and delegating. They are also responsible.

  18. Anne B December 6, 2021 at 3:10 pm #

    As a qualified but retired social worker, I can only say, how awful the death of a young innocent child is.

    I started my career in 1972, and enjoyed working in an Intake Team – short term worki – where we took new referrals made, arranged appropriate visits, made enquiries and either passed on the work to a long-term team, or finished the work outselves. There was pressure taking new referrals – letters, phone calls, visits – often going into the complete unknown, but it was a key role in the service. Children must always be the priority.

    Who is making the referral? Why has it come at this point? What has changed? What is really going on? If you have ever made a difficult phone call yourselves, you will know how distressing and it can be to pick up that phone, to try and get through to someone you can actually talk to, to write that letter, or to indeed handle your own emotional stress from the situation. In this little boy’s life, his grandma phoned to express her concern, at least that is all I know, apart from the point that his mother was in prison.

    Yes, effective multi-agency working is absolutely essential. Awful child deaths have always always upset and disturbed me. From the book published ‘Remember Maria’, to the NSPCC campaign ‘Full Stop’, up to the present day, 2021, where we hear and see some of the terrible abuse on video in young Arthur’s life.

    I know no more than other social workers who have tried to work within the failed and failing system, and I read the comments here with great sadness, from dedicated workers, who have done their best. A national review of child protection work is essential, but please, please, give essential resources to front line social workers and support staff, all part of the essential team approach, I also have picked up from reading through the comments, that supervision and support is often not available for these dedicated social workers. I can only hope and pray, that children are always the first priority. More preventative child care services, like play groups, nurseries, ‘home-start’ programmes, and emotional engagement for young children, as well as a robust anti-poverty food provision programme. During early lockdown we saw wonderful examples of teachers going out of their way to deliver food parcels to vulnerable children and their families, and to make a daily contact. Where there’s a will there is a way.

    • Jem December 7, 2021 at 12:48 pm #

      Anne B l wish you were in parliament, you have such compassion and ideas to really improve outcomes for precious children.

  19. sussex social worker December 6, 2021 at 3:16 pm #

    I wish the press discussed the role of all members of society being the eyes and ears such as the hairdresser who witnessed the child being made to stand facing away in the corner for 5 hours at the hairdressers!

  20. Sab December 9, 2021 at 1:24 pm #

    During the lockdown some of the teachers/schools were going extra miles delivering food to the families in need.
    Social care is a broken system with too much bureaucracy, hindrances by managements. There was another social worker who had said that for some people take up this as a career, not a vocation.
    Yet, despite all the difficulties, some social workers are doing great job.

  21. Paula December 13, 2021 at 1:12 pm #

    I am a Nana and EHFW, I recently had to make “the call” to children’s social care because of my very real worries about my 4yr old Granddaughter and her, most recent bruises, caused by, her words: “I was naughty” Her Dad, my son, told me they were caused by her step mum struggling with her to get her upstairs to her room as she was “acting like a 14yr old. My son felt sorry that his girlfriend had to deal with his daughter’s bad behaviour and blamed his child for being “naughty”. My son has taken my calling “social” as a betrayal to him and his girlfriend. “Social” can’t speak to me about anything but could say that it is not “open” to them. I am more worried than ever about my Granddaughter since my son has cut off all contact with him and my Granddaughter. I was the main safety factor in her life and have a very close bond with her.
    It took me 2 full days to gather the emotional strength to make the “call”, it was not done lightly and was a measure of my worry about her and I thought that at the very least I would be contacted by a social worker as the child’s Grandparent who has concerns, Signs of Safety?? When are Grandparents going to be taken seriously?? I am a professional and make decisions in my work about children’s safety and am taken seriously but as soon as I am talking as a “Nana”?? I am discounted. I pray that my beautiful girl will remember what I told her “You can only be brave when you are scared and tell your teacher”.

  22. Soph December 19, 2021 at 8:32 am #

    I am sick to death that as a society we DO NOT PRIORITISE CHILDREN- the hair dresser and her partner witnessed Arthurs disgusting treatment- would they treat their own kids or vulnerable family like that?