Studying past cases of child neglect is a ‘big distraction’ for child protection professionals, a leading professor of social work has said, a day after a jury convicted a mother of starving her young son to death.
Hamzah Khan, 4, who’s mummified body was found in the bedroom of his mother two years after he died Photo: PA
Ray Jones, of Kingston University, warned social workers were spending ” a lot of time” focusing on serious case reviews and not enough time trying to protect children.
He said social workers were already aware of what needs to be done to protect children but were often forced “to cut corners to get the day job done” because of pressure on resources.
He told the Today programme: “The process of doing the serious case review is very time consuming and it’s a big distraction for managers from what’s happening now.
“If you were going to go through them all, you’d actually spend a lot of time reading serious case reviews rather than tyring to protect children.”
It comes after Amanda Hutton was convicted of manslaughter on Thursday following the discovery of the mummified body of her four-year-old son Hamzah Khan. Hutton, an alcoholic mother of eight, had starved him to death.
A procession of doctors police officers, teachers and social workers failed to save Hamzah.
Bradford’s safeguarding children board has conducted a serious case review but its findings will not be published until later this year.
However Professor Jones, who is a professor of social work at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, run jointly by Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, insisted there was “not much learning left to be done”.
“We know what makes good child protection practice,” he said. “But it’s very difficult to drill down into that because we have a system under tremendous pressure. People are having to cut corners to get the day job done and that’s not going to make children safer.”
A serious case review has to be completed whenever a child has been seriously injured or has died as a consequence of abuse or neglect. Around 200 have to be completed every year.
Professor Jones said that compared to the rest of Europe, the UK has a much lower percentage of children who die following neglect. Between 50-70 children die each year, he said.
In Britain, there are 44,000 children with child protection plans and 450,000 children in contact with social workers.
SOURCE: The Telegraph