Agency failings in teenager’s death

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Agencies in Rotherham have learned lessons following the death of a teenage mother.

Rotherham social services and South Yorkshire Police were among a list of agencies that missed numerous opportunities to protect Laura Wilson, who was stabbed and left to die in a canal by her 17-year-old boyfriend.

This week the agencies apologised for their failings and said lessons had been learned.

A review by the Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board said there was no suggestion that any agency failings led to her murder although it conceded that there could have been improvements in her care.

Laura, of Birch Park Court, Holmes, was repeatedly stabbed and then dumped in a canal near her home by 18-year-old Ashtiaq Asghar in October 2010.

The young mum, who had a four-month-old daughter from a relationship with another Asian man, was knifed to death after she told the families of both her lovers about her relationships with the pair.

Alan Hazell, chairman of the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “There is no suggestion that anyone could have saved Child S (Laura) from what ultimately happened to her but clearly her care could have been improved.”

“There were chances for those agencies to be more proactive in how they dealt with the case and all agencies involved accept that and apologise that the standards of service were not as high as they should have been.”

“It is vital that agencies learn from what happened here and there is clearly a commitment in Rotherham to make that happen. As the report comments, there are already many initiatives in place to ensure that services are now improved.”

“That is reflected by the removal of a Government Improvement Notice last year and a rating of ‘performs adequately’ in the latest national Children’s Services Assessment ratings.”

“We now need to step up the pace of improvement and the Board will continue to oversee the work of agencies in Rotherham to ensure that children, young people and their families receive improved services both now and in the future.”

The report’s author Pat Cantrill said none of the agencies involved with the teenager regarded her as the highly vulnerable child she was and that there was a lack of co-ordination between all the agencies.

Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Board said it had already acted on many of the recommendations made to ensure lessons were learned from Laura’s murder.

Among the changes already introduced made include the introduction of specialist support teams and the creation of new Contact and Referral Team to provide improved initial assessments and better access to services.