Former Northampton MP Sally Keeble has called on the findings of a serious case review into the abuse of a Northampton boy severely neglected and locked in a faeces smeared room to be published.
The Northamptonshire Safeguarding Board has announced today, following an enquiry from BBC Radio Northampton, that it is taking the unusual step of deciding not to make public the review because it says it ‘is in the best interests of the children involved’.
This comes in the same week that the failings of Northamptonshire agencies responsible for safeguarding children made national headlines following the deaths of two Northamptonshire toddlers.
Both had been murdered by their violent, drug dealing father figures and there had been a number of mistakes and missed opportunities made by police, social services and health bodies.
Their deaths came against the backdrop of severe staffing problems at the county council’s children’s services department, which is now being overseen by a government-appointed Children’s Commissioner Malcolm Newsam.
Sally Keeble says the public has a right to know and the safeguarding board should be transparent.
She said: “Of course the children involved in this case need to be protected. They have already suffered very greatly and are entitled to much-needed protection and privacy as they rebuild their lives.
“However, especially in the light of the two serious case reviews published this week, it is important that the public understands the role of the local services and the steps they took to safeguard these children. So I hope that the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board will publish an edited version of the report setting out the actions of the local authority and other services. Lack of transparency helps no one.”
A statement from the county's safeguarding board said: “The NSCB works to the national guidance set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children – the 2015 version for this particular review and all reports are written with an expectation to publish.
“However, there are occasions when it is not appropriate to publish a Serious Case Review due to the potential damage it could cause to the children involved and, as stated in The Children Act, the welfare of children is and must remain our primary focus.
“At present, the decision is not to publish this Serious Case Review due to the reasons stated above. These children have already suffered considerably and this was also evident through the course of the trial. It is not in their best interests to publish this report and for them to suffer further upset and anxiety.”
Leader of the Northamptonshire County Council Matt Golby has faced calls to stand down following this week’s serious case reviews. He has decided not to.