Dorset drugs death boy 'may have been sexually exploited'

Dorset County Council offices in Dorchester Image copyright Google
Image caption The boy had been under the care of the former Dorset County Council

A teenager in care died after taking illegal drugs and may have been sexually and criminally exploited before his death, a report has said.

The 16-year-old boy, known as Child T, was under the care of Dorset County Council when he died in June 2018.

A serious case review found there had been "no co-ordinated approach" to manage his safety and welfare.

Dorset Council said it was working to improve support for children at risk of exploitation.

The report by Dorset Safeguarding Children Board said, from the age of 14, Child T repeatedly went missing and had been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery and assault, among other things.

Safeguarding 'undermined'

It said despite his admission of gang involvement and having had 11 sexual partners since the age of 14, "gender stereotyping" meant concerns about sexual exploitation were never properly investigated.

It also said anecdotal evidence suggested he was being exploited by gangs to courier or sell drugs.

In May 2018, Child T received a one-year custodial sentence for robbery but was "released unexpectedly" in mid-June.

It was then, after being placed by Dorset County Council in another county, that he ingested "illicit drugs" while with friends and died in hospital.

The serious case review found efforts to safeguard Child T were "undermined" by the increasing number of agencies and professionals involved.

Dorset Safeguarding Children Board chairman Sarah Elliott said: "Children and young people who are in care should expect to be supported and protected from harm and we're all greatly saddened by the untimely death of this young person."

Children's councillor Andrew Parry, of Dorset Council, which replaced the county council in April, said the authority had been "working tirelessly" with other agencies to improve information sharing.

He said: "We're particularly working hard to improve support for children at risk of different forms of child exploitation."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites