Social worker receiving support after ‘tragic’ death of Bronson Battersby

Council launches rapid review after toddler found dead alongside father, almost two weeks after the last contact with them

Clock with the word 'review' written above it
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A social worker and her colleagues are receiving support after the “tragic” death of two-year-old Bronson Battersby.

The toddler was found dead with his father, Kenneth, at their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire, on 9 January, almost two weeks after the last known contact with them.

Bronson was on Lincolnshire County Council children’s social care caseload and the authority has launched a rapid review into the case.

Kenneth is believed to have died from a heart attack, no earlier than 29 December, 12 days before the pair were found.

Bronson’s social worker had last had contact with Kenneth on 27 December. This was also the last known contact to have taken place with him.

No response to scheduled visit

She went to the home for a scheduled visit on 2 January but got no response. Lincolnshire has said that Bronson’s was the sort of case where the child would normally be seen once a month.

The social worker then went to other addresses to find Bronson without success before contacting the police.

She tried the house again on 4 January before gaining entry on 9 January after being given access by the landlord. She then found Bronson and Kenneth’s bodies.

The social worker has taken time off because of her experience.

Social worker receiving support

“The social worker, obviously, is incredibly upset,” Lincolnshire’s director of children’s services, Heather Sandy, told the BBC’s World At One on 17 January. “She had worked with Bronson and his family over a period of time and cares very deeply about the work that she does.”

In a subsequent statement to Community Care, Sandy said: “We really value the support our staff provide to children and families across Lincolnshire, and we make sure that they are supported too. This was a devastating experience for those working with the family, and all have been given an opportunity to take time off.

“There is regular contact from managers, supervisors and colleagues, and a range of trauma-informed support is available to them. This is in addition to the council’s wider health and wellbeing support for staff, which includes a counselling service.”

When asked about whether the council and other agencies could have gained entry to the property earlier, Sandy told the BBC: “To be really clear, social workers cannot force entry, they have to gain the consent of the homeowner.”

The police do have powers of entry, under section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This permits entry to a property without a warrant in order to arrest someone for a serious offence or for the purposes of preventing serious damage to property or saving life or limb.

However, Sandy told the BBC that Kenneth’s death was unexpected.

Police force refers itself to watchdog

Lincolnshire Police has referred itself to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), the police complaints watchdog, which has now begun an investigation into the case.

The IOPC’s regional director, Derrick Campbell, said: “The harrowing circumstances in which Kenneth and Bronson Battersby died are truly shocking. Our sympathies go out to everyone affected by their sad deaths.

“It is appropriate we carry out an independent investigation to consider the police response to any prior welfare concerns that were raised. We will be examining whether there were any missed opportunities by police to check on Mr Battersby and Bronson sooner.”

For the county council, Sandy added: “This was a tragic incident, and we are supporting the family at this difficult time.

“We are currently carrying out a review of the case alongside partner agencies to better understand the circumstances, and we await the results of the coroner’s investigations as well. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.”

What is a rapid review?

Under the Children Act 2004, if a council England knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected, it must notify the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel if the child dies or is seriously harmed in its area or, while normally resident in its area, the child dies or is seriously harmed outside England.

The panel’s guidance states that, whenever a council makes such a serious incident notification, it and its fellow safeguarding partners must carry out a rapid review and submit this to the panel within 15 working days of the notification. This guidance for safeguarding partners is non-statutory, however, the statutory Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance states that partners should have regard to the panel’s document.

Working Together also states that partners may review a case where the criteria for a serious incident notification is not met, if it raises issues of importance for the local area.

In its guidance for safeguarding partners, the panel states that the purpose of a rapid review is to gather the facts, consider immediate action and potential for improvements, and decide whether to proceed to a more in-depth local child safeguarding practice review (LCSPR). The rapid review should include, at a minimum:

  • Basic information about the child, such as their ethnicity, whether they are male or female and whether they have a disability.
  • Family structure and relevant family background, including on other children beside the one harmed and on parents and any other significant adults. This could be done through a genogram.
  • Immediate safeguarding arrangements of any children involved.
  • A concise summary of the facts, so far as they can be ascertained, about the serious incident and relevant context.
  • A clear decision as to whether the criteria for an LCSPR have been met and on what grounds, and if not, why not.
  • Any immediate learning already established and plans for its dissemination.
  • Which agencies have been involved, explaining the omission of any agency whose involvement would be usually expected.

It says important issues to consider in the rapid review include:

  • What was the child’s true lived experience and how can their voice be heard in the review?
  • How was the race, culture, faith, and ethnicity of the child and/or family considered by practitioners and did cultural considerations impact on practice?
  • How did any disability, physical or mental health issues, and any identity issues in the child and/or family impact on the child’s lived experience and on practice?
  • Were any recognised risk factors present or absent and did they play a significant part in the child’s lived experience?

There is no expectation to involve families in a rapid review, though partners should consider whether and how findings should be shared with family members.

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14 Responses to Social worker receiving support after ‘tragic’ death of Bronson Battersby

  1. Bee January 18, 2024 at 11:00 am #

    This is a desperately sad event that no one could have prevented. A relative, let alone an individual working alongside a parent; cannot be there 24/7 on the premise that a sudden death may occur. I pray for the family concerned, and also for the SW & her family as they navigate the extremely painful emotions following this awful tragedy. I’m certain all that could be done to support this family was & had been done to the best of their ability with only the best of intentions toward the child and his parent.

    • Mark Flynn January 22, 2024 at 2:49 pm #

      Agreed. This is a difficult scenario to prevent. As a Social Worker it has made me think more about risk assessments that could recommend children who can not contact others must be checked in with every three days for example even if this is by phone.

  2. Jackie Mahoney January 18, 2024 at 3:52 pm #

    Such a tragic event am pleased the social worker is getting support and there is prompt review to establish the circumstances.

  3. David January 19, 2024 at 1:04 pm #

    Thankfully the Social Worker is receiving support as opposed to being blamed

  4. Patricia January 19, 2024 at 1:57 pm #

    I work in mental health , and feel devastated for all involved in this tragic case , can I please ask when the police woluld be asked to interveen .

  5. Sharon Shoesmith January 19, 2024 at 5:04 pm #

    I’m really pleased to hear that the social worker and her colleagues are receiving support. I urge social workers nationwide to send their support – it matters.

    The media and some politicians have been circling and need to be seen off.

    • Violet January 20, 2024 at 8:13 am #

      The family are not blaming nor circling the social worker so I suggest a degree of humility in not trying to anticipate an unlikely scenario. Our colleague is loved and supported, we don’t need national headlines for that to continue.

      • Claire January 22, 2024 at 9:51 am #

        The mother has already blamed the social worker and Social Services.

        • Violet January 24, 2024 at 8:21 am #

          And got short shrift from other family. There’s been no traction to social worker blame in the media either. Social workers need to see what’s there not retreat into everybody blames us self gloom at every tragedy. Standing up for ourselves and colleagues doesn’t mean we shoulder imagined slights.

          • Vee January 28, 2024 at 7:08 pm #

            Violet, please let your colleague know they are loved and respected farther than their immediate work family. Naturally I don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ but sounds like they went above and beyond. Nobody wants this when they come into this profession- I’m glad they are getting the support they need.

  6. Chris Bellis January 19, 2024 at 5:07 pm #

    Predictably, the mother is blaming social services, begging some rather obvious questions. However, the poor child’s father’s daughter is saying social services had done all they could.
    When I was a team manager in Nottinghamshire we used to have to do welfare checks regularly on families that had moved or retired to Lincolnshire. I could never understand what they saw in the place. Morrissey was right about these coastal towns. What a tragic case. I pray for all concerned. This is not like the usual cases – the dad loved his child and the child loved his father.

  7. Pauline O'Reggio February 7, 2024 at 3:22 pm #

    My heart goes out to the child, family, and social worker.


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