Harm could have been prevented

A SERIOUS case review looking at how police and social services handled the case of the second child attacked has concluded that “it was possible to predict and prevent the harm caused to the (second) child.”

The review, which centres on how organisations and professional bodies protected the child – referred to as Child F – also said agencies acted with “a lack of care and attention to basic details”.

Published by East Riding Safeguarding Children Board (ERSCB), the review also stated that Adam Hewitt, 25, posed a risk to children.

He was suspected of attacking his partner’s baby in April 2007, but Humberside Police closed the investigation after 10 days.

In the report, it said that “there was a lack of a management overview within the police” after a family court hearing in 2008 at which Judge Jeremy Richardson QC found Hewitt was responsible for attacking the first baby, causing a head injury.

Humberside Police were given the information in May 2008 but did not reopen the case and charge Hewitt.

It enabled him to meet another woman and attack her baby eight months later in January 2009, leaving the child brain damaged and with 11 fractures to the ribs and tibia.

It now recommends that the decision not to proceed with investigations when a serious crime has been committed against a child should be taken by senior officers.

In September 2008, the Probation Service had told social workers from East Riding council that Hewitt had formed a relationship with a woman with children.

Despite an initial assessment, they closed the case in November 2008 without “adhering to procedures” leaving the child to be assaulted by Hewitt.

The review was critical of social workers who “felt overwhelmed by complex cases and had little opportunity for reflection and planning”, as well as stating that those in senior positions displayed “poor assessment compounded by poor judgements” and that “managers failed to give direction and support.”

This initial assessment took social workers eight weeks instead of seven days.

Key issues raised by the family of Child F were also stated in the review, with the mother of Child F stating that the message social workers “did not convey the clarity” of the danger Hewitt posed to her children.

Also, it was revealed that the fathers of the three children in the household with Hewitt at the time of the second attack were not alerted, despite the fact that the extended families were involved in the care of the children.