Media reports* have revealed that Local Authorities missed 18 chances to save the life of Blake Fowler from Southampton, who died from severe head injuries after years of being sexually, physically and emotionally abused.
Details of the report reveal that the seven year old boy
- often arrived at school with bad bruises
- was once admitted to hospital with a swollen penis and facial injuries
- told staff 'Daddy gives me bruises' and this was recorded in a case review
- was made to watch porn and given vodka
- had suffered from 'unacceptable errors' by authorities in tackling 'explicit abuse'
Arrests were made, but not one individual has been prosecuted over Blake's death. Teachers, police, council, doctors and the safeguarding board have apologised, but what must we learn from this?
‘It is heartbreaking to read the details of this case and it begs the question as to how could this happen as recently as 2011,’ says Charles Derham, specialist child abuse solicitor for Verisona Law. ‘Sadly our abuse team comes across multiple failings by authorities on a daily basis relating to care decisions made, often linked to the failure of child protection bodies to communicate with each other as to the extent of evidence available at such crucial times.’
Inevitably, there will be similar cases to Blake’s that have yet to come to light. Currently, Safeguarding Children panels are obliged to investigate when a child has died or been seriously harmed by abuse or neglect and there is cause for concern as to the way in which the authority or others worked together to safeguard. However, this only came into force in April 2006 and relies on abuse being formally identified and reported - difficult when people have spent years in silence, trying to forget the abuse and unable to confide in the closest relative, let alone the authorities.
An abused child may eventually escape the perpetrator’s abuse and commendably try to move on in life, but the impact of the abuse can be devastating, echoing on into adult life. Often people do not even think to question the actions of authorities in relation to social care decisions made in childhood, but it is only by investigating poor decisions that systems can be improved for children in the future.
Sadly there is nothing that can be done for Blake Fowler, but the abuse team at Verisona Law is here to help people look more carefully at decisions made about their care.
If you feel that you have been let down or treated badly when under the care or supervision of social services, even a long time ago, we can help you get compensation and closure by bringing a claim on your behalf. A claim may be possible if Social Services
· removed you from the care of your parents, placing you in an abusive environment
· failed to intervene and take you into their care to protect you
· failed to make adequate assessments in relation to your needs
· made care decisions exposing you to further harm
We are here to listen and work with you to find answers and make sure your experience does not go unheard. Contact Charles Derham at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 023 9244 6920.