England

Birmingham acid douse death 'preventable'

  • 11 October 2012
  • From the section England
Iman Omar Yousef
Iman Omar Yousef, 25, was declared unfit to stand trial

A serious case review into the death of a girl, who was stabbed by her mother and then doused in acid, has found her death could have been prevented.

Police discovered three-year-old Alia Ahmed Jama in Erdington, Birmingham, in February 2010 in what they described as the worst case they had ever covered.

Iman Omar Yousef, 25, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was found to have unlawfully killed her daughter.

The report said agencies did not work together effectively enough.

'A tragedy'

Alia's body was found covered in bin liners on a bedroom floor at a house in Milverton Road on 13 February 2010.

She had been repeatedly stabbed and acid had corroded her bones and internal organs.

In October of that year, a judge at Birmingham Crown Court ordered that Yousef should be detained in a secure psychiatric hospital.

The serious case review concluded there were no previous indications that the mother would physically harm the child.

Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) said Alia's death could not have been predicted.

However, the board said had assessment and urgent intervention been made at critical points it is probable her death could have been prevented.

The review found that professionals tended to focus on appeasing the mother, dealing with practicalities and accepting her version of events, rather than probing the concerns raised by the family and other residents.

Jane Held, independent chair of the BSCB, said: "Our sympathies are with Alia's wider family.

"This was a tragedy which couldn't have been anticipated, but if we had worked together better may have been prevented."

The report said the family had raised concerns about Yousef's mental health with council officers and police since her arrival in the UK.

It found there were "missed opportunities" for professionals to asses the mother's mental health and maintain the welfare of the child.

The day before the child was found dead, Yousef had called police at least eight times and visited a police station - in a "distressed and agitated" state.

Training need

However, no immediate action was taken to contact children's social care or consider a mental health assessment.

The board found a number of areas where agencies could work more effectively.

They include the need for more training about mental health issues and recognition of the potential additional needs of children within asylum-seeking families.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which investigated the circumstances, said officers involved followed force policy and procedures.

No misconduct issues were found in relation to any individual officers, the IPCC said.

However, it said the potential risks to Alia "may have been better recognised" and the force has improved the training of officers with regards to mental health issues.

Yousef had claimed asylum, alleging that she was suffering shock from her experiences in Somalia, but it was later established that she had lived in Holland, where her child was born, since the age of nine.

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