“Children at Risk” Council Response to Maria Colwell Death Inquiry Report

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East Sussex Childrens Safeguarding Board have released East Sussex Councils Response from April 1975 to the death of Maria Colwell, in response to a Freedom of Information Request [2].

The Councils Response is called “Children at Risk. A study by the East Sussex County Council into the problems revealed by Report of the Inquiry into the case of Maria Colwell.” [1] [click on link and it should download onto your computer to your downloads file or wherever]

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.  National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups. Other useful sites are One in Four [C] and Havoca [D]

I have not yet studied fully the Council Response but unfortunately it cannot be properly evaluated without reading the Report of the Inquiry into the death of Maria Colwell Inquiry Report which is not freely available. The Maria Colwell case was a pivotal one, because it was so shocking, and the first to have an Inquiry.

The full title of the Inquiry Report is  “Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the care and supervision provided by local authorities and other agencies in relation to Maria Colwell and the co-ordination between them” . [8]

It is no doubt available for a substantial sum of money from the privatised Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), now privatised and called The Stationery Office (TSO)  if you can get past their search facility. The reports should all be readily available free on line if we are to learn as a society the lessons from these tragedies. The relevant Local Authorities should proactively release these in their Publication schemes without having to be asked by numerous time consuming freedom of Information Requests.

This short summary of what happened to Maria is on Wavetrust [5].

Maria Colwell died on 6th January 1973, aged 7. Maria, removed from her mother’s care due to neglect, had been living happily with an aunt after her father’s death, but was returned to her mother at the mother’s request. Despite warnings of abuse, and 30 calls to social services from neighbours, she was left in a violent household. One neighbour reported the child being hit for being dirty, and saw her at a window with a blackened face “and one eye just a pool of blood.” The neighbour asked NSPCC and Social Services: “What protection does a child have against her parents? Does she have to be killed before they take her away?” In Maria’s case the answer was yes. Maria was taken to hospital in a pram, after being beaten by her stepfather the night before. She was found to be dead on arrival. She had 2 bruised eyes, bruising on neck, back, arms and legs, severe internal injuries and brain damage. Her stomach was empty. [5]

Community Care wrote about Maria [6]

Maria Colwell had been fostered by her aunt and uncle (Doris and Bob Cooper) for five years because her mother, Pauline, couldn’t cope with bringing up five children. Then Pauline decided she wanted Maria back. Guided by the notion of the birth mother’s rights, Maria was returned to Pauline on 22 October 1971 and moved  into the council house she shared with her future husband William Kepple on Maresfield Road, Brighton.

What was left of Maria’s young life would be characterised by neglect, cruelty and distress. At 11.30pm on Saturday 6 January 1973, Kepple came home to find the six-year-old watching television. He beat and kicked her to death. Maria suffered brain damage, a fractured rib, black eyes, extensive external bruising and internal injuries. The pathologist described her injuries as “the worst he had ever seen”. Kepple, sentenced to eight years for manslaughter, had the term reduced to four years on appeal.

The government finally conceded to set up a full public inquiry after media pressure. Being the first of its kind it unwittingly etched the blueprint for all subsequent inquiries. Indeed, inquiries became the accepted means of dealing with death and abuse. [6]

An Extract of the Inquiry Report [4] is available from Oxford journals but registration and pay per view is needed for many articles.

An in depth Digest of the Inquiry Report [3] written by Robert Shaw on children Webmag.

But all this is no substitute for easy access to the report itself online.

Cases nowadays have to undergo a serious case review. Serious case reviews (SCRs) are undertaken by local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) for every case where abuse or neglect is known or suspected and either a child dies, or a child has been seriously harmed and the case gives rise to concerns about the way in which local professionals and services worked together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.[11] [Dept for Education]. They are usually published on line.

However before approximately year 2000 there are approximately 50 reports , most of which have not been published. If anyone has the time to request any of these on the Whatdotheyknow [12] website many would be grateful.

It is just a matter of doing a bit of research into the exact name of the report if available, and the exact up to date authority to ask. Most details are available below. If anyone would like any help please contact me on cathyfox@bigfoot.com.

Individual Child Protection in the Community inquiries involving with Local Authorities/Health probation having prior involvement.

01.1945 Dennis O’Neill (Shropshire & Newport)

02. 1973 Graham Bagnall (Shropshire) Local Authority (LA) ND Health separate

03. 1974 Maria Colwell (East Sussex) LA

04. 1974 David Naseby (Staffordshire)

05 1974 Max Pizazzani Health and Local authority

06 1975 Stephen Meurs (Norfolk)

07 1975 Lisa Godfrey (Lambeth, Southwark & Lewisham) LA Health Probatiom

08 1975 Richard Clark (Perth) Secretary State for Scotland

09 1975 John George Auckland Secretary of State England

10 1975 Liza Godfrey Local authority Health and Probation

11 1975 Stephen Meurs Health Local Authority

12 1976 Neil Howlett (Birmingham)

13 1977 Wayne Brewer (Somerset) Area review Committee

14 1978 Karen Spencer (Derbyshire) LA and H

15 1978 Stephen Menheniott (East Sussex) Secretary of State

16 1978 Malcolm Page (Essex)

17 1978 Simon Peacock (Cambridgeshire and Suffolk) LA/Health)

18 1979 Darryn Clarke (Liverpool) Secretary of State

19 1979 Lester Chapman (Berkshire & Hampshire) LA Health

20 1980 Paul Brown (The Wirral)

21 1980 Carly Taylor (Leicestershire) LA

22 198? Darren Cooper (Leicestershire)

23 1981 Claire Haddon (Birmingham)

24 1981 Maria Mehmedagi (Southwark) LA Health Probation

25 1981 Emma Hughes (Calderdale)

26 1981 Christopher Pinder (Bradford) Area review Committee

27 1981 Daniel Frankland (Bradford)

28 1981 Malcolm Page LA Health

29 1982 Richard Fraser (Lambeth)

30 1982 Lucy Gates (Bexley) LA and Health

31 1982 Jason Caesar (Cambridgeshire) LA

32 1982 Gerard Fenlon (Cheshire)

33 1984 Shirley Woodcock (Hammersmith & Fulham) LA

34 1985 Jasmine Beckford (Brent)        Refused [17]

34a  1985 Jason Swift Hackney/Islington Conewood St Childrens Home? Request [21]

35 1986 Reuben Carthy (Nottinghamshire Area Review Committee)

36 1987 Heidi Koseda (Hillingdon) Area review Committee [15]

37 1986 Charlene Salt (Oldham) Review Committee

38 1987 Kimberly Carlile (Greenwich)

39 1987 Tyra Henry (Lambeth) [14] Doreen Mason (Southwark)

40 1988 Gavin Mabey (Leeds)

41 1988 Jason Plischkowsky LA

42 1989 Liam Johnson (Islington) Area Committee

43 Doreen Aston Review Committee            ? See #45

44 1990 Stephanie Fox (Wandsworth)                                  Request [21]

45 1990 Doreen Aston (Lambeth, Lewisham & Southwark) Not held [18]

46 1992 Leanne White (Nottinghamshire)               Refused[16]

47 1994 Rikki Neave (Cambridgeshire)                  Request [20]

48 2000 Lauren Wright (Norfolk)                           Request [19]

July1988 The Secretary of State Cleveland Inquiry .

1999 Aliyah Ismail Serious Case Review (SCR) [13]

Links and References

[1] Children at Risk. A study by the East Sussex County Council into the problems revealed by Report of the Inquiry into the case of Maria Colwell https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/194507/response/481776/attach/3/FOI%202014%203453%20Children%20at%20Risk.pdf

[2] FOI request re Councils Response https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/children_at_risk_a_study_by_the#outgoing-333488

[3] In Depth Summary of Maria Colwell Inquiry Report by Robert Shaw of Children Webmag http://www.childrenwebmag.com/articles/key-child-care-texts/the-maria-colwell-reportchaired-by-tg-field-fisher

[4] Maria Colwell Inquiry Report Extract http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/1/88.extract

[5] “A tale of 10 children” summaries of 10 childrens deaths http://www.wavetrust.org/key-publications/articles/tale-10-children-2005

[6] Community Care Article What have we learned? Child death scandals since 1944 http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2007/01/10/what-have-we-learned-child-death-scandals-since-1944/#.Uv0n8s5WppU

[7] Argus Climbie and Colwell Article http://www.theargus.co.uk/archive/2003/01/31/6743294.Climbie__Lessons_must_be_acted_upon/?ref=arc

[8] Committee of Inquiry into the Care and Supervision Provided in Relation to Maria Colwell (1974). Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the care and supervision provided by local authorities and other agencies in relation to Maria Colwell and the co-ordination between them(Chairman: T. G. Field-Fisher) London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

[9] Victoria Climbie Report http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmhealth/570/570.pdf

[10] The Stationery Office Shop http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/

[11]  Serious  Case Review Department for Education http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/safeguardingchildren/reviews

[12] Whatdotheyknow FOI website https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

[13] Aliyah Ismail Serious case review https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/serious-case-review-aliyah-ismail-harrow-1999/

[14] Tyra Henry Death Report Lambeth https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/death-of-tyra-henry-report-1987-lambeth/

[15] Heidi Koseda Death Report https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/report-of-inquiry-into-death-of-heidi-koseda-hillingdon-area-review-committee-1986/

[16] Leanne White Refused https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/report_of_overview_group_into_th#incoming-482828

[17] Jasmine Beckford refused https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/report_of_inquiry_into_the_death

[18] Doreen Aston refused https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/report_of_the_inquiry_into_the_d

[19] Lauren Wright FOI request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/lauren_wright_child_protection_i

[20] Rikki Neave FOI request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/rikki_neave_child_protection_inq

[21] Hackney Jason Swift FOI https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/jason_swift_2

[21] Stephanie  Fox Wandsworth FOI request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/stephanie_fox_practice_review_wa

[A] Sanctuary for the Abused http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/for-survivors-coping-with-triggers-if.html

[B] NAPAC http://www.napac.org.uk/

[C] One in Four http://www.oneinfour.org.uk/

[D] Havoca http://www.havoca.org/HAVOCA_home.htm

cathyfox the truth will out

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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5 Responses to “Children at Risk” Council Response to Maria Colwell Death Inquiry Report

  1. Pingback: Child Protection Inquiries and Serious Case Reviews | cathyfox

  2. Rick says:

    http://www.bookfinder.com currently shows that amazon.ca has a secondhand copy of Care and Supervision Provided in Relation to Maria Colwell: Committee of Inquiry Report for £20.57 including shipping. Too expensive for me (peripheral to my main interests), but might interest you

    • cathyfox says:

      Hi, thanks for that Rick, very kind of you. It is out of my price range as well. My objective is to make it available to everyone for free so the lessons which should be learned are learned each time from one these reports.

  3. Pingback: cathys foxs site on child abuse its worth a read believe me | meggiemom342

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