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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Keighley MP Robbie Moore calls for leader of Bradford Council and chief executive to resign after Star Hobson failing

Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley Robbie Moore is calling on the leader of Bradford Council, Susan Hinchcliffe, and chief executive of the Council, Kersten England, to resign after failings relating to Star Hobson’s death.

In Bradford Crown Court earlier today, Savannah Brockhill, 28, was found guilty of murdering 16-month-old Star Hobson and the baby’s mother, Frankie Smith, 20, was found guilty of causing or allowing her death.

Brockhill is Smith’s girlfriend and the pair were supposedly caring for Star.

Multiple referrals were made by family members and friends to Bradford City Council between January and September 2020.

The court heard that paramedics, called to the child’s home on 22 September 2020, found Star pale, lifeless and barely breathing.

The toddler suffered a cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to Airedale General Hospital and, despite the very best efforts of doctors, was pronounced dead less than an hour after the initial 999 call was made.

Star had suffered utterly catastrophic, unsurvivable injuries. They were consistent with her being punched, stamped on, or kicked in the stomach.

She also had fractures to the shin and the skull that predated the death, and her body was covered with widespread, non-accidental bruising consistent with her being prodded, pinched or punched. No medical help was sought until Star suffered her final, fatal injuries.

The jury also heard evidence that Star had been subjected to cruelty and psychological harm. This included being filmed as she was being frightened awake or when, clearly exhausted, she fell off her chair or into her food. These incidents demonstrate that Star was routinely treated with disdain and completely without love.

Six referrals were made by family members and friends to Bradford City Council between January and September 2020, including a final alert from Smith’s grandfather, Frank, weeks before Star’s death.

Robbie Moore is calling on the leader of the Council, Susan Hinchcliffe, and chief executive, Kersten England to resign.

In a statement put out by Bradford Council, Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Star was let down and we all want to know if anything could have been done differently.

“The Bradford Partnership, which includes all the agencies in the Bradford district involved in protecting children, has already commissioned an independent Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review to answer this question.

“Now the trial is complete, this review will be concluded and published next month. We want to make sure that Star’s case also informs the national inquiry that has been launched as a result of the shocking murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

“Social workers in our district support a great many children and young people and carry out work in circumstances that are often very challenging. It is essential therefore that lessons are learned from Star’s terrible death so that we can better protect our children.”

The authority’s Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into Star’s death is due to be published in January 2022.

Mr Moore said that “whilst the ultimate responsibility lies with Star’s evil killer” and “vile neglect from her mother, questions must now be asked as to why action was not taken”.

In September, the Department of Education appointed a commissioner to work with Bradford council’s children’s services after Ofsted reported a “slow pace” of improvement since its ‘inadequate’ rating three years ago.

Ofsted inspectors rated the West Yorkshire authority as ‘inadequate’ in 2018 after they found services had “rapidly deteriorated” over the previous 12 months, with “serious failures in social work practice” leaving children at risk of significant harm.

Robbie Moore has also called for a “Rotherham-style” investigation into historic child sex abuse in Bradford and Keighley after a damning report was published in July stating that there is an “unknown number” of victims and perpetrators of child sex abuse in the district, dating back twenty years.

In a series of tweets, Robbie Moore said: “Whilst the ultimate responsibility lies with Star’s evil killer, and the serious and vile neglect from her mother, questions must now be asked as to why action was not taken.

“We heard in court how there were numerous referrals made to social services, but yet nothing was done about it. The referral made by Star’s own great grandmother was closed without her even being told about it.

“Bradford Council bosses should hang their heads in shame. I have no confidence children’s services will ever be fit for purpose under its current leadership. I am afraid it is my view that Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe and chief executive Kersten England must resign.

“Children’s services has been in a dire state for years and there now must be serious action taken to protect children, and in my view,  this cannot be done under the current leadership.”

Bradford’s interim director of children’s services Marium Haque, the chief officer of Bradford District & Craven CCG Helen Hirst and Bradford’s police district commander chief superintendent Sarah Jones issued a statement today apologising for the death.

The statement said: “Anyone who has followed the trial will want to know what more could have been done to help protect Star. As agencies that have a joint responsibility to protect children, this has been at the forefront of our minds.”

“Any death of a child, wherever it happens, is one death too many, but this happened in our district, in our community and has had a devastating impact,” they said.

“We are very aware as partners that there is much that we need to learn from this case. We have already put in place actions that will improve our practice so that we learn those lessons. But we need to fully understand why opportunities to better protect Star were missed.”

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