A DAMNING report has criticised social workers, medics and school staff after reviewing the story of a 12-year-old Thurrock girl with learning difficulties who was raped and sexually abused by a number of men.
Watchdog organisation the Thurrock Local Safeguarding Board has highlighted a series of failings by social workers and other professionals over three years.
At the focus of the report are Thurrock Council’s Social Service team who stand accused of not taking the girl’s story seriously enough, despite being alerted to the situation by Essex Police and Basildon Hospital.
The review found 25 separate failings or missed opportunities to intervene between January 2010 and December 2012.
The background to the girl’s story case is a long history of contact with children’s welfare and child protection services for her, her siblings and parents. Her mother and her father were known to children’s welfare services as children.
The girl, named in the report as ‘Julia’ was assessed as having special educational needs.
Health records report that as a child, Julia’s mother was also considered to have learning difficulties. There were been long standing concerns about Julia and her half siblings regarding neglect, intra-family sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic abuse and social exclusion and deprivation.
Over time there were concerns about the parent’s lack of engagement with services, but there was also evidence of sufficient change in the lives of all the siblings, which led to Children’s Social Care feeling able to withdraw from involvement with the family.
When Julia was aged 12, in January 2010, she disclosed that she had been raped by boys (aged 15- 18) over a two year period.
The report says that should have been the catalyst for child protection procedures to be activated but instead goes on to say that a catalogue of errors in her care were made over the following three years.
Damningly, the report says: “Julia was seen as a child in need – not a child in need of protection.”
The full report on the story of ‘Julia’ is available to read
A joint statement from Thurrock Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), Thurrock Council, Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group and Essex Police said: “The serious case review relates to multi-agency practice between November 2010 and January 2013.
“A detailed action plan – involving the agencies identified in the Serious Case Review (SCR)- has been agreed by all, ensuring improvements in practice and that those improvements are fully embedded to prevent this from happening again.”
“This multi-agency response is being closely monitored by the LSCB, the Council and each agency to ensure we all continue to improve practice and that future opportunities to intervene are appropriately acted on.
“The fact the SCR was commissioned shows how seriously each of the agencies take the issues raised and reinforces their determination to learn from the experience.
“All the partners – the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, Thurrock Council, Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group and Essex Police – consider the safety of the young person, including her anonymity to be paramount.
“Serious Case Reviews are conducted to make sure that we all look at what more should and could have been done to protect a child. That is so in this case and the proposed actions have been taken.”