Don’t Be Fooled By Cheating Parents, Warns Senior Child Social Workers | Child protection

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Social workers must be more skeptical and decisive when faced with ‘manipulative and deceptive’ parents, urged one of Britain’s leading child protection experts following Arthur’s torture and murder Labinjo-Hughes in the hands of his mother-in-law and his father.

Martin Narey, former head of Barnardo’s children’s charity and senior government adviser, said social services should view potentially abusive parents “more critically” and not hesitate to take children into care.

Arthur, six, from Solihull, West Midlands, was poisoned, starved and beaten in a campaign of abuse by his stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, and father Thomas Hughes, 29 , in the weeks leading up to his death.

Hughes was sentenced to 21 years on Friday after being convicted of manslaughter. Tustin was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 29 years.

On Saturday, the attorney general’s office said prison terms of 29 years and 21 years, respectively, should be reviewed to “determine whether they are too weak.” The AGO has 28 days from the date of conviction to review a case, assess whether it falls under the overly lenient sentence regime, and make a decision on whether to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal.

A spokesperson said: “The thoughts of the Attorney General are with those who loved Arthur. I can confirm that the sentences imposed on Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes were returned to the Attorney General for review to determine if they were too weak. ”

Police body camera footage, recorded moments after Tustin inflicted the final fatal injuries, shows the unemployed mother-of-four repeatedly lying to cover up the schoolboy’s prolonged torture.

Yet social workers, told by Arthur’s grandmother of bruised shoulders, found “no protection issues” after visiting the boy two months before his murder. One of them believed that Arthur was “very happy”.

Narey, who has advised the government on adoption and other child-related issues, including social work education reform, said: “Social workers generally do an outstanding job, but some of them do. they must be more skeptical when dealing with parents who are manipulative and deceptive.

He added that Arthur’s death exposed flaws in the current approach to social services, which he said required working with parents instead of ensuring the safety of the child, if necessary by taking it. in charge.

“One of the faults is that everyone thinks that taking care of a child is a negative step. Because the children in care have, for example, poor school results. But it’s just a deep misunderstanding of what’s going on. These children do poorly in education and in other fields because they have been neglected at home.

“The evidence shows that for children who need it, care has a positive effect,” said Narey, also a former head of the prison service in England and Wales and special adviser to Michael Gove when he was secretary to the prison. education.

Wendy Thorogood, director of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, also appeared to echo Narey’s call for greater awareness among social workers of the potential harm posed by manipulative parents.

The child protection expert said: “I cannot comment on what they [the social workers] actually witnessed, but you must remember that he [Arthur] was in the hands of quite cruel people who could manipulate him, his environment and his professionals. She said Arthur should have been a top priority for social services, but he sort of ‘missed out’. Thorogood told Times Radio: “You would expect them to actually watch his story, but unfortunately they are continuing what they are seeing right now.”

Meanwhile, Lord Laming, who led the public inquiry into Victoria Climbié’s death and examined the case of baby Peter Connelly, also called for changes to the system, saying the training of social workers should be reviewed at the aftermath of Arthur’s murder. “I think we need to review the quality of training for social workers,” he said.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was poisoned, starved and beaten in the weeks leading up to his death. Photograph: Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow / PA

Laming also warned that the budget cuts of the past decade had taken their toll. “The sharp drop in funding for local communities over the past 10 years has led to a real withdrawal from front-line services, and it has become a kind of crisis service rather than prevention.

“The whole organization needs to focus on the front line, on what is happening to children, and making sure they step in sooner rather than later and when it is too late,” Laming told the BBC Radio 4 Today program.

David Jamieson, former West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner from 2014 to 2021, also said austerity had restricted frontline public services in the region and any lessons learned from the circumstances surrounding the murder of Arthur should take this into account.

A serious and independent case review examines the case, particularly why at least three warnings from family members and teachers regarding Arthur’s well-being were ignored.

The review is also likely to investigate the possible impact of the lockdown, with Arthur’s abuse escalating after he and his father – who had sole custody after his mother was jailed two years ago for stabbing his partner to death – moved into Tustin’s house in March of last year. when the Covid restrictions were first introduced. Coventry Crown Court heard how the couple orchestrated a “campaign of cruelty” in which the boy was isolated, forced to eat salty food and suffered 130 injuries.

Tustin, 32, inflicted an insurmountable brain injury on Arthur at his Solihull home on June 17 last year.

Hughes, 29, a laborer, texted Tustin 18 hours before the fatal assault that read, “Just end it.

Judge Wall told the court that none of the defendants showed remorse and that their actions were “malicious and sadistic.”

Tustin’s own two children, he said, “lived a perfectly happy life in this house” just yards from where Arthur was subjected to “unthinkable abuse.”

CCTV inside the couple’s home released by West Midlands Police on Friday shows them eating ice cream as Arthur starves to death out of sight.

Tustin never disclosed the motive for Arthur’s torture and murder. She carried out the fatal assault as she was solely responsible for Arthur, taking a photo of the child on his phone as he lay dying, then sending the image to Hughes.

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