School nurse who tried to raise alarm of 'extreme' Northamptonshire child cruelty case was repeatedly ignored by authorities

A school nurse who tried to raise her concerns about a child who was suffering at the hands of his abusive stepfather was ignored by authorities.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:25 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 12:58 pm
Stock image. A school nurse was repeatedly ignored when she tried to warn authorities about child cruelty.

A serious case review published yesterday revealed how chance after chance was missed to help a boy who was kept at home locked in a dark, filthy bedroom.But during the years of abuse, while social services and healthcare officials failed to realise something was wrong, the report has revealed how a school nurse tried to warn authorities she suspected the boy was being abused.

But she was ignored.

The report, published by the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, reads: "The perseverance of the school nurse in attempting to bring her concerns about [the child] to the attention of fellow professionals is to be commended.

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"Unfortunately, her referral to the MASH [Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, operated by Northamptonshire County Council] did not result in child protection procedures being instigated."

The report stated how the boy's behaviour before he was removed from school by his stepfather was "indicative" of safeguarding concerns. His demeanour changed and, when asked, his responses were "confusing and concerning".

Despite the nurse's warnings, it would be another year before action was taken to safeguard the boy and his siblings.

In fact, the report showed how the boy was not seen by any professional for 14 months, and safeguarding action was only taken when the boy's sister told a member of staff at her school about the abuse.

When the police and social services finally went to the house that same day, they found what one social worker called "the worst child abuse I'd seen in 25 years".

They discovered how the stepfather and his mother had been keeping the boy locked naked and alone in a filthy, dark bedroom with no mattress or light bulb.

When police found this room, they found the walls and floors covered in excrement. A lock and an exterior alarm were fixed to the door and the blind over the curtain was nailed in place.

The stepfather and the mother were jailed in May 2019 for a total of 10 years for child cruelty.In response to the county council's failures to spot the abuse, cabinet member for children's services Fiona Baker said: "We are deeply sorry for any poor decision making and mistakes which may have contributed to this awful case of abuse. Children’s Services in Northamptonshire are on an improvement journey and although much progress has been made there is still a lot to do."