Portsmouth Council Criticised Over Baby's Death

A review into the death of a child in Portsmouth has criticised the City Council, as well as police and NHS.

The baby, known only as Child D, died in December 2011 of natural causes while sleeping in unsafe conditions. 

The girl was known to social services but suffered cot death at three weeks old while being looked after by her extended family.

The council's apologised, and has been told to improve some of its services. 

In response to the report Julian Wooster, Director of Children's & Adults' Services at Portsmouth City Council said:

"My sympathies remain with the family of Child D at her very sad death.

"The coroners' inquest found that Child D died of natural causes when she just three weeks old.  We had initiated court proceedings and the court had determined the arrangements in place for this baby were satisfactory.

"The Portsmouth Safeguarding Board however considered it necessary to review the circumstances leading up to her death, as a child protection plan was in place.

"This serious case review looked in detail at how agencies including the council provided support to the family since 2004. It found many ways that services provided by organisations including the council could have been improved, although it also acknowledges that many of our practices have changed in that time.

"We accept the recommendations in the review that apply to Portsmouth City Council and have taken robust steps to improve our performance in all the areas highlighted.

"We fully recognise that the support the council provided for this family could have been better organised and we apologise for this.

"The action plan we have developed and implemented in response to this review has included increasing the number of solicitors dedicated to child protection work. It also ensures there is close scrutiny of arrangements before a child is placed with a family member.

"The government has recognised through its national review of child protection services and guidance issued in April 2013, that there is a need to improve children's social work services across the country.

"Here in Portsmouth despite being constrained by a shortage of experienced social workers nationally, we have recognised the need to make significant changes and have made many improvements to our social work teams.

"We have been selected as one of a group of leading authorities nationally to illustrate the progress we are making to support social workers in carrying out the very difficult job they do and to help them learn from our improvements."

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