BAY friends raised alarm about the neglect of tragic tot Keanu Williams more than a year before he was murdered.
Mother-of-three Rebecca Shuttleworth was jailed for at least 18 years after being convicted of murdering the toddler who lived in Torbay for the first seven months of his life before moving to the Midlands.
The 25-year-old inflicted ‘horrifying’ injuries on Keanu after apparently convincing her support worker she had turned her life around.
The findings of the Serious Case Review has now been published by the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board into the circumstances surrounding his death.
It has identified a “number of significant missed opportunities" by agencies that came into contact with the baby.
It concluded that although Keanu's death on 9 January 2011 could not have been predicted, the agencies involved could have seen that he was "likely to suffer significant harm".
Children’s services at Birmingham City Council and Torbay children’s services and health services say they have overhauled their procedures since the case.
It has emerged that Shuttleworth was known to the authorities even before baby Keanu was born in Torbay in December 2009.
The boy lived in the Bay until he was seven months old.
Friends who came into contact with Shuttleworth raised concern about his treatment with children’s services.
But she was already in the process of moving to Birmingham when the alarm was raised and the authorities there were quickly notified.
Part of the 189-page report details Torbay’s involvement in the case.
The report stated how worried friends anonymously reported that:
Keanu was once seen in wet clothes out of the washing
machine and when offered to have them dried, Shuttleworth refused.
Keanu was left in dirty nappies for 5-6 hours.
Had only one bottle of milk to last an entire day’s outing.
Milk bottles not sterilised.
Shuttleworth left Keanu with anyone if she wanted to go out and frequent change of partners.
The report states that specialist services were provided to Keanu and Shuttleworth during her pregnancy and after the birth.
But an opportunity was missed to fully address the treatment of her older children, her own history of growing up in care and her capacity to care for Keanu.
It said that too much emphasis was placed on Shuttleworth’s move to independence rather than the wellbeing of the child.
Torbay Council has since acted on all recommendations made in the report including earlier implementation of safeguarding protocols for children deemed at risk.
Torbay Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Richard Williams, said: “This is an extremely sad case and I would like to reassure everyone that we take the recommendations in this review very seriously and have acted upon them all.
“For the past few years we have been raising the quality of practice in Torbay and earlier this year Ofsted inspectors recognised that significant improvements have been made to Children’s Services in Torbay.
“We are committed to keeping children and young people safe and we will continue to work closely with all our partners so we can build on the improvements we have already made to offer the best protection possible.”
Shuttleworth and the newborn was placed in foster care for four months.
It was the longest term of stability that the youngster had ever known.
But the board found that too much emphasis was on supporting Shuttleworth towards living independently rather than the needs of Keanu.
And the board found that there was poor communication between health visitors and GP services and the GP was not fully aware that Shuttleworth was in foster placement.
Bob Brown, Director of Nursing and Professional Practice at Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust said: “This was a very tragic case, one which has concerned us greatly. The safeguarding report identifies a number of procedural and communication issues relating to the family’s time in Torbay. We apologise for our shortcomings and have fully addressed all the issues raised. “Health and social care agencies in Torbay are now working together in a more joined-up way, and we are confident that our child safeguarding measures are now more robust.”
Improvements made in Torbay Children’s Services include:
• A new social worker structure has been implemented and is being continually monitored to ensure the council has sufficient staff to undertake all children’s social care related work.
• A multi-agency training programme is now available offering a wide range of courses to improve safeguarding knowledge and skills.
• Practice standards for assessments have been developed and supported by a practice manual and compulsory training.
• An ‘Escalation Policy’ has been promoted. This should be used if there are barriers to accessing information or when there are professional differences which need resolving.
• The Unborn Baby Protocol has been reviewed, promoted and shared with all partners
• A quality assurance framework for assessments is being developed by the Children In Need Service and includes regular case auditing, training and practice standards for assessments.
• A commissioning protocol has been developed and implemented to ensure that guidelines are in place so that all professionals are provided with the relevant information they need to carry out a well informed specialist assessment of a family, parent or child.