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Government announces snap action following murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

The Government has launched a national review and local inspection following the death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

06/12/21

Government announces snap action following murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

A major review into the circumstances leading up to murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has been launched by the Government to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with him in the months before he died.

The Government has separately commissioned four inspectorates – namely: Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and HM Inspectorate of Probation – to undertake an urgent inspection of the safeguarding agencies in Solihull to whom Arthur was known.

As part of this inspection, all the agencies tasked with protecting children at risk of abuse and neglect in Solihull will be subject to a Joint Targeted Area Inspection to consider their effectiveness and advise on where improvements must be made.

In addition to this, a national review, led by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, will identify the lessons that must be learnt from Arthur’s case for the benefit of other children elsewhere in England. The Government hopes that the national review will provide additional support to the local safeguarding partnership in Solihull and ‘upgrade’ the existing local review, launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020 and paused while the court case continued. The Department for Education confirmed that, separately, the review of children’s social care in England, led by Josh MacAlister, is ongoing and remains due to report next year.

The Government says that the actions taken will mean a ‘deep, independent’ look at Arthur’s case, and the national lessons to be learnt; and a joined-up inspection of how all the local agencies involved are working, including how they are working together, to keep children safe nationally and locally.

“Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation. I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life,” Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said.

“I have taken immediate action and asked for a joint inspection to consider where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in Solihull, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.”

The Education Secretary also confirmed that Annie Hudson, Chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, will work with leaders in Solihull to deliver a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify lessons to learn from the case.

“We are determined to protect children from harm and where concerns are raised we will not hesitate to take urgent and robust action. We will not rest until we have the answers we need,” Zahawi said.

Emma Tustin was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after her six-year-old stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died of a brain injury after she and his father Thomas Hughes beat him, poisoned him and withheld food from him. Arthur’s father, while not present for the final attack, was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years for “encouraging” violence towards his son.

Arthur's death on 17 June last year, came after a campaign of cruelty inflicted by both Tustin and Hughes during which Arthur was forced to stand for hours on end and suffered repeated assaults.

On 16 June 2020, officers were called to Tustin’s home in Cranmore Road, Shirley, where Arthur was unconscious on the floor. Paramedics tended to him having arrived to find a neighbour performing CPR on the six-year-old.

Arthur had bruising to his head and body, appeared under-weight and his gums were bleeding. He was taken to hospital but sadly despite the best efforts of medical staff he died at 1am the following morning.

The Department for Education says it will work with both the National Panel and the Solihull Partnership to agree a timeline for publication of the national review over the next few days, as well as confirming the full scope of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection with the agencies involved.

Responding to the announcement, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said it welcomes a review that will "allow for learning and meaningful action from such a tragedy".

"Whilst we await the outcome of essential reviews, we cannot ignore that social work is under enormous pressure. Despite the hard work and dedication of social work practitioners and those that work with children’s services, child protection is a complex issue that requires appropriate funding, resources, and time to form meaningful relationships."

BASW also warned that people should be 'mindful' of the effect of austerity and poverty, and reiterated that social workers were complying with the COVID-19 regulations at the time.

"Social workers were complying with national measures, still knocking on doors and making doorstep visits to keep an eye on vulnerable children. However, it is a simple fact that children became less visible with schools closed."

Picture: West Midlands Police

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