Wiltshire

Swindon councillors' alarm over 'unknown' child abuse

Child neglect generic image Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Labour politicians say austerity means social services cannot cope with the number of serious child neglect cases

Politicians in Swindon say they are "deeply troubled" they were not told of six serious cases of child abuse or neglect in the town.

A council scrutiny meeting heard three children aged five years or under had died.

Labour councillor Carol Shelley said the authority should be "honest about the effects of austerity on safeguarding children".

The ruling Conservatives accused Labour of "political point scoring".

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said scrutiny committee members at Swindon Borough Council only found out about reviews into the six cases through the Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group's annual general meeting papers.

The health report stated: "Of these cases; three children five years or under died, two young people were seriously sexually assaulted and one child faced near death due to neglect."

'Horrifying to hear'

Two cases of baby deaths have been published on the Swindon Local Safeguarding Children Board's website; a two-week-old baby boy in March 2015 and an eight-week-old baby girl in October 2015.

Both died while co-sleeping with their mothers.

A third case was heard at Gloucester Crown Court concerning the neglect of two children - a serious case review is due to be published soon.

Cllr Shelley, the Labour group's spokesperson for children's services, said: "It is horrifying to hear that there are at least six cases of children who died or who suffered serious harm.

"Social workers are under the most strain they have ever been in and these case reviews have clearly demonstrated they simply do not have the resources to cope with the number of serious cases coming through.

"I am also deeply troubled that yet again we do not hear of these cases until the reviews have been completed."

The Conservatives said the information was published online and presented to its health and wellbeing board meetings.

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