Kettering baby abuse case one of the most serious I've dealt with, says safeguarding board chairman
The independent chairman of the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board says the abuse of a five-week-old Kettering baby was one of the most serious cases he's dealt with.
Keith Makin spoke today (Thursday) following the publication of the serious case review over the torment suffered by baby Isabelle at the hands of her parents, Rocky Uzzell and Katherine Prigmore.
Mr Makin says the case has been a real wake-up call to the board.
He said: “I think this is one of the most serious cases I’ve dealt with, both personally and throughout my knowledge of SCRs.
“There’s about 150 SCRs every year [in the country] and this very sadly would figure right at the top of them in terms of both the severity of what happened and the fact that things were starkly missed.
“This has been a real wake-up call to the board generally and we really have taken it extremely seriously.
“There is a lot of learning coming from it, not just locally but the dissemination nationally.”
The report found gaps in information sharing and missed fractures in X-rays.
Mr Makin says had those fractures been spotted, Isabelle would have been taken into care sooner.
He said: “There were some information-sharing gaps and whether they in themselves would have made a difference is a really moot point, there’s not enough evidence to say either way.
“The parents presented pretty well and the baby seemed fine actually, but there was a really worrying series of possible admissions over a series of time.
“Had the fractures been identified through the X-rays then this baby wouldn’t have been left with the parents and it would have been a completely different outcome.
“Several hospital admissions in a short period, particular types of injuries and so on, should trigger people to ask that question.
“We have put protocols in place for this but in this situation something was very starkly missed and the report makes that clear.
“The X-rays were taken but they weren’t properly examined by a paediatric radiologist.”
Mr Makin added that it was “very likely” that if either parent was to have another child, they would be separated at birth.
He said: “What we’re saying as a board is that all professionals involved with babies and families should have safeguarding in mind.
“I can’t say for certain what would happen but what has happened would alert authorities to the fact that a baby could be in very real danger.
“There would then be a process of examination and a child protection conference.
“I can’t say exactly for sure but in these circumstances it would be very likely that there would be a removal of that baby at birth.”
A number of protocols have been put in place to prevent such a case from happening again.
Mr Makin added: “There are two main things really, one is that all professionals in all circumstances do need to ask the question as to whether there could be a safeguarding risk and whether there could be abuse behind what’s happening.
“Fundamentally the board is now satisfied that new services have been put in place to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.
“We’re reassured that the learning from this terrible case has been put in place and we are monitoring people with case audits on a regular basis.
“Sadly and unfortunately as chairman of the safeguarding board I can never say that a set of circumstances would never happen again because the real world is that things are very complicated.
“There are parents who disguise what they’re doing and keep things from professionals, so sometimes there is very little that can be done about that.”
Uzzell was jailed for six years for his role in the abuse, with Prigmore sentenced to 28 months behind bars.