Children left at 'unknown risk' by council inspected after Arthur Labinjo-Hughes' murder

21 February 2022, 12:03 | Updated: 21 February 2022, 13:02

Arthurs step mum was found guilty of his murder.
Arthurs step mum was found guilty of his murder. Picture: West Midlands Police

By Emma Soteriou

Children have been left at an "unassessed and unknown risk" by child services at the council inspected in the wake of the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

A report has found young people in Solihull "wait too long for their initial need and risk to be assessed".

"This means that for a significant number of children, they remain in situations of unassessed and unknown risk," the report, published on Monday, said.

It comes after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was murdered in June 2020 by his stepmother Emma Tustin at their home in Solihull, having been seen by social workers just two months before his death. However, they concluded there were no safeguarding concerns.

Tustin was sentenced to a minimum term of 29 years, after being found guilty of his murder, while Arthur's father, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi called for the inspection in December 2021, with Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and the Chief Inspector of Probation (HMIP) for England and Wales looking into multi-agency responses to risks to children in Solihull.

Read more: Jamal Edwards' mum leads tributes to music mogul who died aged 31 after ‘sudden illness'

Read more: Van driver admits causing deaths of boy, 3, and his sister, 4, in horror M4 crash

Child safeguarding expert on Arthur aftermath

Inspectors said they were concerned by incomplete police records which left children potentially "at risk of significant harm".

They saw examples of separate records for the same person because their name had been spelt incorrectly, while children had not been linked on the system to family relatives who could pose a risk to them.

"This means that when officers and staff research 'Connect' (the police record system) they may miss important information, potentially leaving children at risk of significant harm," the report said.

Inspectors reviewed the records for one young child who was not linked to her father in the system, despite his history of domestic abuse and drug use and the fact he is subject to a non-molestation order.

"Consequently, a domestic abuse incident the child was exposed to, involving her father, does not appear on her 'Connect' record," the letter said.

"It also means that when officers conduct searches on the system, it is not obvious that the man poses a significant risk to her."

Some frontline police officers have also recorded children in the wrong place in the system or not at all when making referrals, it added.

Read more: Cabinet row over new Covid rules: Sunak and Javid clash over testing cash

The report also found that the local authority has faced "long-standing difficulties in ensuring there are enough social workers" in the area, and that attempts to improve this in 2021 had "limited impact".

"These difficulties were compounded by concerns raised following the court case for the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in early December 2021, which made social workers highly reluctant to work in Solihull either on a permanent or agency basis," the report said.

It went on to say that the current workforce is "committed and knowledgeable and dedicated to meeting the needs of children" but that they face "immense pressure" to meet daily demands and that this "reduces their ability to respond swiftly to all concerns for children".

The report called on agencies in Solihull to send a written statement of action to Ofsted by May 30 2022.

Hundreds of people attend vigil for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

In a joint statement, Minister for Children and Families Will Quince, Minister for Care Gillian Keegan and Minister for Safeguarding Rachel Maclean said: "Arthur's death was horrific and deeply disturbing.

"The two individuals responsible are in prison - but we must do everything we can to prevent any more cases like this.

"His death serves as a daily reminder of the urgent need for all the agencies tasked with protecting vulnerable children to work together.

"That's why we commissioned this joint inspection of services in Solihull, which has identified two clear areas where priority action is needed.

"Each agency - police, health and children's services - has an equal duty in this work and we are writing to all three to make clear our expectation that they participate fully in producing and delivering on a written statement of action."

Safeguarding minister: Met has 'very serious questions to answer'

Joanna Barrett of the NSPCC said: "It's hugely concerning that this inspection has found systemic problems with the 'front door' of safeguarding services which mean a significant number of children are waiting far too long for their initial assessment, leaving them at risk of harm and cruelty.

"It is absolutely crucial that safeguarding agencies in Solihull are better resourced and work together more quickly and efficiently to share information and intervene as early as possible to prevent any more tragedies like the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes."

Ms Barrett said that the issues higlhighted were not "confined to one area" and the Government needed to ensure "the recommendations from the National Child Safeguarding Review Panel and the Independent Review of Children's Social Care are a watershed moment that leads to significant change in our child protection system".

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Tories raise less than £300k in second week of election campaign, as over three-quarters of all donations go to Labour

File photo of passengers boarding an Easyjet plane

Chaos as Easyjet kicks 26 men off flight headed from the UK to Portugal for 'disruptive behaviour'

Bardia Shojeifard

'Outwardly normal' teen killer with 'worrying interest in knives' posed with huge blade before murdering Alfie Lewis, 15

Police were called to a property at Shorncliffe Road shortly after 3pm on Sunday

Pictured: Baby girl mauled to death in Coventry dog attack at family home

Public schoolboy guilty of attempted murder after vicious clawhammer attack on sleeping staff and students ahead of 'zombie apocalypse'

Public schoolboy obsessed by 'zombie apocalypse' guilty of claw hammer attack on sleeping staff and students

PC Idominik Efeotor raised the issue at the annual State of London debate

'The people who investigate the officers are the problem’: Black Met officer hits out at disproportionate treatment in disciplinary process

Salisbury Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess

Former spy and daughter may give evidence at Salisbury poisonings inquiry

Rishi Sunak has urged voters not to let Labour 'waltz into office'

'Don't let Labour waltz into office', Sunak tells voters as Brits may not 'ever' be able to get them out of power

Starmer says eco mob 'needs to feel the full force of the law' as he slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil

Starmer says eco mob 'needs to feel the full force of the law' as he slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil

The M6

Drivers face misery as major motorway closed for three days next week, sending cars on 90 minute diversion

Kings College Hospital NHS Trust is one of two London Hospitals affected by the hackers

Russian hackers publish NHS patients' details and blood test results online after London hospital cyber attack

Bardia Shojaeifard killed Alfie Lewis

'Outwardly normal' boy, 15, who murdered teenager Alfie Lewis named for first time as judge lifts anonymity

Helicopters, sniffer dogs and 4x4s have been deployed in the search for Jay Slater.

Helicopters and sniffer dogs deployed as Spanish authorities focus on new terrain in search for missing Jay Slater

Former Man United footballer Nicky Butt sentenced after breaking motorcyclist's leg in horror Range Rover crash

Former Man United footballer Nicky Butt sentenced after breaking motorcyclist's leg in horror Range Rover crash

Nick Adderley has been sacked after panel found him guilty of gross misconduct and lying

Police chief who wore fake Falklands medal found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked for lying

Anthony Hill disappeared on Monday morning

Body found by police searching for Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert colleague Anthony Hill