Birmingham & Black Country

Keanu Williams: Changing heads of Birmingham's children's service

As a serious case review is published into the death of two-year-old Keanu Williams, who was beaten to death by his mother Rebecca Shuttleworth, BBC News looks at the recent bosses of Birmingham City Council's troubled children's department.

The authority has had four strategic directors of Children, Young People and Families since 2009.

Tony Howell (April 2006 - Jan 2011)

Tony Howell started as strategic director for children, young people and families in April 2006. He announced his retirement in July 2009 but stayed in post until January 2011.

During his reign there were 14 serious case reviews. Khyra Ishaq - the seven year old who was starved to death by her mother and her boyfriend in Handsworth - came to the attention of social services in March 2006 and died in 2008.

Ofsted concludes the department is "failing to protect vulnerable children" in July 2010 and brands it inadequate.

Eleanor Brazil (Jan 2011 - April 2012)

Appointed interim strategic director on a 12 month contract in 2011. The contract had an option to extend to 18 months - which it was. She was reportedly paid £1,000 a day.

Keanu Williams was murdered by his mother Rebecca Shuttleworth during her tenure, in January 2011.

Colin Tucker, Birmingham City Council's director of children's social care, was suspended in January and left his post by "mutual agreement" in April 2011.

A senior council source said Mr Tucker's department had not improved quickly enough.

No serious case reviews were published in 2011/2012.

Peter Duxbury (April 2012 - July 2013)

Started in April 2012 but left after just 15 months. A council spokesman said this was by "mutual agreement" after taking "unplanned emergency leave to deal with private family matters".

They added: "The council is continuing with the improvement strategy for its services for children, young people and families and has asked Peter Hay CBE, strategic director for adults and communities, to take over responsibilities in the interim."

Before he left Mr Duxbury, a former social worker, said there was "little likelihood of special measures being lifted before 2015."

No serious case reviews were commissioned during his tenure.

Peter Hay (July 2013 - current)

Appointed to manage the department "in the interim". One serious case review has been commissioned so far.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said in September the most urgent issue facing the council was the need to establish permanent management arrangements for children's services. He said they needed someone who could "win the loyalty and respect from staff and give confidence to the political leadership."

"We believe we have in Peter Hay, who has been asked to manage the service in the interim, such a person," he said.

He added: "It is clear that with Peter Hay we do have an officer who has all the requisite qualities to lead the service and provide assurance. In fact the last time Children's Social Care showed signs of externally accredited improvement was when he managed it."

Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood said the department would not improve until there was some continuity with the person in charge.

"There are never any results because people are always in limbo," he said.

"Every time a new person takes charge, the department is changed to suit them.

"None of the leaders ever look at the systemic failures. They come in, give out press releases, then in the end they are booted out because they have not delivered what they should have."

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