A serious case review examining the months leading up to the death of a toddler Ayeeshia Smith who died in Burton will be published today - reporter Helen Kreft is reporting live from the hearing.
The toddler died at her home in Britannia Drive, Stretton, in May 2014. A trial at Birmingham Crown Court last year heard that her mother, Kathryn Smith, stamped on her daughter so hard it caused cardiac arrest.
Smith was jailed for a minimum term of 24 years which was later reduced to 19. Her then-boyfriend Matthew Rigby was jailed for 42 months after he was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of the toddler.
We will be bringing you all of the updates as they happen from the serious case review.
Opportunities were missed to weigh Ayeeshia and more needs to be done to involve fathers, report says
“Opportunities were missed to weigh Ayeeshia”, says Carolyn White, chief nurse at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust
She spoke to the Burton Mail about the health visitors’ roles during Ayeeshia’s Jayne’s life up until she moved to Stretton in February 2014 and how they will now improve on their practices.
“The health visitor visited on a regular basis because AJ was on a child protection plan and visits were recorded in a lot of detail.
Clearly the report identifies the kind of environment that AJ was brought up in.
"We are extremely sorry, we had two opportunities to intervene", Burton hospital boss reveals over AJ
“We are extremely sorry. We had two opportunities to intervene or to do more than we do and we didn’t take those opportunities.”
So says Dr Magnus Harrison, medical director at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who admitted more could have been done by staff to ask the right questions.
Children's charity's reaction to devastating details that saw 20 chances missed to save Ayeeshia Smith
The unfolding events of the months leading up to the death of 21-month-old toddler AJ Smith have been laid bare in today’s serious case review report.
Children’s charity Kidscape today refused to comment on individual cases, but previously, after Ayeeshia’s death, the group’s then chief executive Claude Knights, who has since retired, released a statement blasting Derbyshire Social Services for missing more than 20 opportunities to save the young girl.
Council chief calls for extra training for social workers as opportunities missed with AJ's dad
“We need social workers to see the whole picture to spot these inconsistencies.”
That’s the stark statement from Jane Parfrement, strategic director of children’s services at Derbyshire County Council, who was interviewed by the Burton Mail on the role social workers played in AJ’s life and what lessons must now be learnt.
Ayeeshia was failed by the system as her murdering mother's needs were put before her own, report says
A “gentle and loving little girl” murdered by her mother who stamped on her chest, causing cardiac arrest, was failed by the system, an official report has revealed.
Derbyshire County Council’s social services department says it is ‘truly sorry’ over its handling of Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith, known as AJ, as a serious case review into her death is published for the first time.
Social services should 'hang heads in shame' for failing to save Ayeeshia says MP Andrew Griffiths
The social services workers who “catastrophically failed” tragic Ayeeshia-Jane Smith should “hang their heads in shame”, Burton’s MP has said.
Andrew Griffiths spoke out after today’s serious case review into the actions of the authorities leading up to the 21-month-old’s horrific death.
Nine recommendations asked to be put in place after Ayeeshia's death
The serious case review asks that nine recommendations are implemented across the agencies following toddler Ayeeshia’s murder.
The full list of recommendations is available here.
Six times Ayeeshia Smith was let down by the system
Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith was failed by the system SIX times before her death, the serious case review has revealed.
Read the full list here.
NHS trust told that some learning and improvement is needed
Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust has been told some learning and improvement is needed around weighing frequency and record keeping.
Burton's Queen's Hospital director said review is a harrowing read
Dr Magnus Harrison, medical director at Burton Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust, said the serious case review is harrowing to read. The trust said it did not do enough to consider if child abuse could be a possibility when AJ was brought in twice for a febrile convulsion and for a cut on her lip that her mother said was caused by a fall in the bath.
Staff already receiving more training at Derbyshire County Council
Jane Parfrement, strategic director of children’s services at Derbyshire County Council, said: “We are truly sorry to the family of AJ. As we hear, procedures such as more training are already in place in the social services department.
NSPCC said flawed practices need to be 'addressed and improved'
The NSPCC has responded to the serious case review in to the death of Ayeeshia Smith.
A spokesman said: “Defenceless Ayeeshia-Jayne suffered sickening cruelty and was consigned to a brutal death by the people who should have protected her.
“The child must be at the heart of all decisions that professionals make in these situations – no matter how difficult those decisions may be.
“This report has revealed a series of missed opportunities and flawed practices that did not consistently prioritise Ayeeshia-Jayne’s needs – and must now be addressed and improved.
“‘Lessons need to be learned’ is an all-too-familiar phrase in tragic cases like this – but everything possible must be done to ensure swift and decisive action is taken when there are concerns for a child’s welfare.
“It is vital that anyone worried about a child speaks out, as it could save a life. They can contact the NSPCC helpline in confidence, 24/7, on 0808 800 5000.”
Outcome of the review
The Burton Mail will be talking to Chris Cook, chairman of the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board shortly.
Finding 6: Importance of suitable housing
There was insufficient consideration of the importance of the provision of suitable housing for Smith and the impact it had on AJ.
Finding 5: Role of the emergency department
Emergency department and paediatric staff did not sufficiently consider whether child abuse or neglect was a possibility when AJ presented with medical issues during the last few months of her life
Finding 4: Little recognition of the role of Matthew Rigby
There was little recognition of the role the boyfriend Matthew Rigby and her father played in AJ’s life. This resulted in a lack of professional assessment of both the benefits and risks they posed to both the mother and AJ.
Finding 3: Lack of understanding by professionals
There is a lack of understanding by professionals about their role and responsibility when a child is subject to a supervision order that can result in a lesser degree of protection than when a child is subject to a child protection plan.
Finding 2: Not enough evidence
There was not enough evidence of authoritative professional practice that saw AJ as the primary client and this resulted in a fixed view that attachment and parenting continued to be good enough, as risks increased.
Finding 1: The child protection plan
The child protection plan which AJ and her mother were put on did not consider whether the mother should be subject to more detailed assessment to fully explore the implications of her mental health needs and drug use on her capacity to parent.
Opening of the serious case review
The case showed how difficult it is for agencies to retain a child-centred focus when the needs of a young parent facing domestic abuse continue to dominate, the review heard.
It also showed the importance of obtaining accurate pre-birth assessments especially around assessing the impact of parental mental health and drug use. Other issues included the requirement for outcome-focused children in need plans which continually adapt to changing circumstances and for professionals to pay more attention to the role male carers are playing in a child’s daily life. More updates to follow.