Toddler death report demands improvements

by Feb 15, 2012 No Comments

An inquiry has been demanded after a report into the death of a toddler outlined a number of recommendations for improving child protection in Scotland.

Kimberley Hainey, 37, was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years last month for killing her son, Declan, and hiding his body to avoid a police investigation at their home in Paisley.

The child’s mummified body was found in his cot in March 2010 – eight months after he was last seen alive.

Renfrewshire Council and the NHS commissioned a significant case review after his body was found.

The report says excuses for missed appointments should not be allowed to develop into “a pattern of concealment” which prevents child protection professionals seeing a vulnerable child. Kimberly Hainey, a recovering heroin addict, repeatedly failed to attend appointments with her counsellor.

The report was commissioned by Tim Huntingford, the chairman of the Renfrewshire Child Protection Committee (RCPC), jointly with Renfrewshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Huntingford said: “The outcome of the trial squarely placed the responsibility for Declan’s tragic death on his mother. Despite this, there were undoubtedly things that could, and should, have been done differently.”

The report outlines 16 recommendations for improvement in relation to areas including how referrals for pregnant women with substance misuse concerns should be made and responded to; staff training; contact levels with children; recording; sharing information; monitoring practice and steps to be followed when a case is closed.

It said there should be an initial child protection case conference arranged in all cases of children being born to drug-using parents, which a health visitor should attend.

The report also urged that GP records should be made available as they are likely to be the most accurate source of the medical history of a substance misusing parent.

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont urged that an inquiry should be held into child protection services.

She said: “We need action today to ensure we do not have a repeat of mistakes that led to little Declan’s tragic death.”

To read a Holyrood feature looking at the issue of drug-addicted parents and how they should be supported, click here

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