Kaiya Blake death serious case review cites failings

Kaiya Blake
Image caption Kaiya Blake's mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter

A report has cited failings by authorities after a mentally ill woman killed her four-year-old daughter.

Kaiya Blake's body was discovered at her home in Manchester in September 2011. She had been suffocated.

Her mother Chantelle Blake was detained in a mental health unit after pleading guilty to manslaughter in November.

A serious case review concluded agencies should have focused more on Kaiya's needs rather than her mother's needs.

'Lessons learnt'

At the time of the killing, Blake was suffering from delusions and hallucinations and was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The report criticised "poor judgment and a lack of robustness in managerial oversight" among some of the agencies who had contact with the family.

The agencies investigated by the Manchester Safeguarding Children Board were:

  • Manchester Children's Social Care
  • Manchester Early Years and Sure Start
  • Greater Manchester Police
  • Adactus Housing
  • NHS Manchester
  • Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust
  • Central Manchester Foundation Trust.

Social services had been aware of concerns for Kaiya in July 2008 when she was 18 months old.

Twice police used emergency powers in July 2009 and October 2010 to take her from her mother, but Kaiya was returned with "undue haste" the report said.

On both occasions Blake stripped her daughter naked because she said she wanted to check for signs of sexual abuse.

On another occasion Blake hit Kaiya so hard at local shops, three members of the public called police.

Parents, nursery staff and even housing association workmen at her flat reported concerns but despite a child protection plan, there was a "fairly chaotic" approach to case planning, the report said.

Two months before Kaiya was killed her mother was assessed by an experienced psychiatrist as having no symptoms indicative of a serious mental illness.

'Not predicted'

However, Blake's family said she had been mentally unwell for more than a decade.

She had been smoking cannabis since the age of 12 and diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2005. The report cited expert evidence saying cannabis use often coincides with an exacerbation of psychosis.

However, the review concluded Kaiya's death "could not have been predicted".

The chair of MSCB Ian Rush said: "There are lessons to be learnt by all of the agencies that were involved.

"Whilst the report finds that the tragic death of this little girl could not have been predicted by any of the agencies working with the family, the recommendations make it clear that agencies could and should have done some things differently.

"This was a complex case, made all the more so by the mother's mental health needs and behaviour.

"This led to an over-emphasis by agencies on dealing with the mother and her needs, rather than focusing on the child and ensuring her needs were met."

Kaiya was found by police at their home in Garthorne Close, Moss Side, Manchester after her mother turned up at hospital with self-inflicted injuries.

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