Probe launched into child deaths and injuries

Dr Paul Kingston
Dr Paul Kingston

New probes have been launched into the deaths or serious injury of three Wigan children, it has emerged.

And investigators have halted the publication into a report on a fourth fatality or casualty at an undisclosed location in the borough in March 2015.

Wigan’s safeguarding children board (SCB) has confirmed investigations are ongoing, concerning three other separate incidents in July and October 2016 and last March.

The decision to launch reviews in all three of the later cases was taken at critical incident panel briefings and the Wigan board then notified a national panel of their intentions.

An independent author has been appointed in the case of the October 2016 and March 2017 incidents but one has yet to be appointed for the July 2016 matter.

In the oldest case, about a youngster referred to only as Child H, the circumstances of the alert, any criticisms of public agencies involved and any lessons to be learned will remain a secret, under the direction of the National Serious Case Review Panel. The other three reports will be published but, as is almost always the case, the child’s anonymity will be preserved.

Dr Paul Kingston, independent chairman of Wigan SCB, said: “The board commissioned the serious case review and requested permission for the report to remain anonymous. This was a process of providing evidence for consideration by the National Serious Case Review Panel, they endorsed this request in August 2017. As with all case reviews, the recommendations from the serious case review will be fully implemented under the guidance and governance of Wigan SCB.”

The reviews can be redacted for a number of reasons, including upcoming criminal proceedings and the impact on individuals and families, or family law cases, though no reason has been cited in this instance.

The last serious case review to be published in Wigan was in August 2016, detailing the physical and sexual abuse of two siblings at the hands of their stepfather between September 1997 and February 2014.

Police and social services were criticised for not recognising several risk factors for the pair, including their mother beginning a relationship with a Wigan man, in 2003, who had already been implicated in the abuse of a six-month-old baby.

Report author Sue Hyde said: “The voices of Child F and Child G were effectively ignored or not believed on some occasions.”

Before then a serious case review in 2015 was called following the death of a seven-week-old baby boy in Wigan in 2013 and was found to have a number of broken ribs. Several agencies were involved in supervising the parents, each suspected of having learning difficulties, but warning signs regarding domestic abuse and a failure to engage with professionals went unheeded.