Oxford

Jayden Parkinson murder: 'Flawed' response highlighted in serious case review

Jayden Parkinson Image copyright Police/family
Image caption Jayden Parkinson, 17, was strangled in December 2013 by her ex-boyfriend Ben Blakeley and was discovered by police in an occupied grave in Didcot

The way police and councils responded to the disappearance of murdered teenager Jayden Parkinson was "fundamentally flawed", a report says.

The 17-year-old's remains were discovered in a disturbed grave in Oxfordshire in December 2013.

Several failures have been highlighted in the serious case review and domestic homicide review into her death.

Last year, an IPCC police watchdog investigation found a series of errors had a detrimental impact on the case.

Ben Blakeley, 23, from Reading, Berkshire, the ex-boyfriend of the pregnant teenager, was jailed for life in July 2014 for her murder.

Jayden disappeared from an Oxford hostel in December 2013, before her body was found at All Saints' Church, Didcot.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Ben Blakeley was convicted of the 17-year-old's murder in 2014

The latest review, commissioned by South and Vale Community Safety Partnership and Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB), highlights failures in the case.

These relate to how Jayden was protected by Oxfordshire children's social care in the months leading up to her death, and the "lack of information shared" about her killer by all involved agencies.

Although the report concluded there could be no guarantee Jayden's death could have been predicted or prevented, it said her "needs and vulnerabilities as an adolescent were at times poorly understood, and agencies were often unable to help her access their services".

It also stated the number of professionals involved with her was sometimes "actively unhelpful", and "inadequate thought" was given to her relationship with them.

"Too often" she was viewed as a "difficult young person and not recognised as a child in need of safeguarding".

'Underlying neglect'

The response of key agencies on the final occasion Jayden went missing "was fundamentally flawed and lacked a sense of urgency", the review added.

It also found the police response "failed to recognise the seriousness of the threat" made to Jayden by Blakeley and was therefore not responded to as a high risk which "significantly contributed to the family's trauma".

Other key findings showed individual workers, particularly from Jayden's school, "worked extremely hard to help and support" her, but "their efforts were not adequately supported by a planned, multi-agency approach".

"This was a particularly tragic case, linked to the domestic abuse, but also underlying neglect, of a teenage girl and her eventual death at her abuser's hands," said Maggie Blyth, independent chair of OSCB.

She said the review highlighted "the continuing need for services to respond effectively to older children in need of protection; and the importance of understanding the impact of domestic abuse within adolescent relationships".

'Knew she would die'

The document included evidence from Jayden's sister Sharaday George who said the teenager "knew one day" she would die at the hands of her violent ex-boyfriend.

"I don't think anything would have helped as she loved him and nothing would have changed her mind," she told officials.

She added there was nothing that could have been done "apart from keeping her hostage".

However, Jayden's mother, Samantha Shrewsbury, told the team she felt "completely let down" by social services and the police.

The report said "a large number" of recommendations had been made for agencies as part of the review, including working more effectively with young people, a more "unified" approach to young people and domestic abuse, and a review into the way work is carried out with young people who pose a risk to others.

Det Supt Joe Kidman, from Thames Valley Police, said the force had already changed the way it recorded information "to ensure frontline staff have the information they need to assess risk accurately".

He said that "all public-facing officers and staff" were receiving further training "to enable them to identify and respond to safeguarding, vulnerability and exploitation effectively, seeing the whole picture rather than just one issue".

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