Cumbria

Poppi Worthington death: Judge criticises police and council

Paul Worthington
Image caption Paul Worthington, Poppi's father, was arrested and later released without charge

A judge has criticised Cumbria Police and the county council over the death of a toddler.

Poppi Worthington, from Barrow, died in December 2012, aged 13 months.

A pathologist had raised concerns but detectives decided she "may have jumped to conclusions", and decided not to investigate until the full post-mortem report was ready.

A family judge has now said that this led to no "real" investigation in the intervening nine months.

Poppi was pronounced dead in hospital after paramedics were called to her home.

It was later found she had suffered a broken bone and other acute injuries.

'Forensic analysis'

Following the death, her father Paul Worthington was arrested but later released without charge.

In October 2104 an inquest, lasting seven minutes, ruled her death was unascertained.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson, sitting in the family court in Liverpool has now ruled that findings in earlier documents can be made public.

They identified a host of failings by police, which included not preserving items such as Poppi's last nappy, and a bloodied sheet from a stretcher for analysis by forensic scientists.

Senior investigating officers also failed to visit the family home and no witness statements were taken until September 2013.

Cumbria Police said that as a result of the criticisms it had referred its actions to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Criticism accepted

A spokesman for the force said: "Three officers were subject to the investigation.

"One officer was suspended and has since retired, the other two officers have moved into different roles."

Cumbria County Council was also criticised for failing to follow national and local guidelines over the death of such a young child.

John Macilwraith, corporate director for children's services at the council, said: "At the time Poppi Worthington died Cumbria children's services were not involved with her or her family.

"Following her death we worked with her family and other agencies to ensure her siblings were not at risk of harm, ultimately making an application to the court to bring them into our care.

"The judge found that this application should have been made sooner given the circumstances of the case.

"We fully accept this criticism and the judge's view that this had a bearing on the wider investigation into Poppi's death."

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