Tyne & Wear

Sunderland City Council 'failures' contributed to child harm

Sunderland City Council Image copyright Google
Image caption Serious case reviews raised concerns about Sunderland City Council's services for vulnerable children

Failures by a council may have contributed to the death of one baby and the injury of another.

One child was hurt by her father and a second drowned in the bath after concerns were not properly dealt with by Sunderland City Council, serious case reviews have found.

The authority said it did not "shy away from the criticisms".

In July, Ofsted found "serious and widespread" failings in the care of vulnerable children in Sunderland.

In 2014, Baby Penny fell and drowned in the bath. A coroner found her death was accidental.

The council's children's services department did not respond quickly or adequately to concerns raised by health professionals about the child's welfare, one review found.

'Lessons learned'

In a separate case, Baby N was injured and the baby's father was later convicted of neglect and ill treatment.

A serious case review found information had not been shared properly by Sunderland children's services and other agencies about the potential risk to the child.

Sunderland safeguarding children board chairman Colin Morris said the council accepted there were "lessons to be learned for all the agencies involved".

"Both reviews found practices - such as failing to follow procedures, poor information sharing and too much focus on the parents rather than the children on the part of professionals - that were not up to the standard the Safeguarding Board would expect.

"There were also times when agencies did not work together effectively."

A number of other serious case reviews in the last two years have raised concerns about the performance of the city's services for vulnerable children.

The 2015 Ofsted report rated the city council as "inadequate" across a range of services including child protection, adoption, and children in care.

The government said a commissioner for children's services would be appointed to ensure improvements and the council has pledged a "root and branch overhaul" of its structure.

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