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REVIEW INTO THE DEATH OF TONI-ANN BYFIELD

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Toni-Ann Byfield was murdered by an unknown assailant on 13 September, 2003 in circumstances that determined a thor...
Toni-Ann Byfield was murdered by an unknown assailant on 13 September, 2003 in circumstances that determined a thorough review by Birmingham Area Child Protection Committee.

David Lambert, former assistant chief inspector at the Social Services Inspectorate, was commissioned to undertake the review and compile a summary report, which is made public today*. The summary report provides a description of the review process, details of Toni-Ann's case history and key conclusions and recommendations.

Individual management reports were received from a number of agencies involved with Toni-Ann. The summary report highlights concerns about the practice of three key agencies: The Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service, Birmingham City Council's social care and health directorate and the National Immigration Service.

It details failings in professional performance and agency process and practice, and highlights two main issues:

-the delays in producing assessments and reports, in the regularisation of Toni-Ann's immigration status and in complying with procedural requirements. This led to difficulties in decision-making and affected the quality of those decisions

-the need for professionals to maintain a thoroughly watchful and diligent stance in respect of their obligations to safeguard children in their charge

Andrea Hickman, chairperson of the ACPC, said: 'The death of any child is to be deeply regretted. If anything good can come from this tragic case, it will be to learn lessons and to ensure that, in the future, rigorous practice standards and procedures are adhered to.

'The ACPC will monitor the action plan and the steps required for improvements. Agencies will report back about the measures they have taken to ensure safe child protection practice.'

The Commission for Social Care Inspection has been consulted over the review process. Findings from the review have been brought to the notice of the Commission and the Department for Education and Skills.

Notes:

1)The Area Child Protection Committee is an inter-agency group which agrees how different services and professional groups should work together to safeguard children.

2)Core membership is from the following agencies: social services, police, health services, education services, probation service, CAFCASS.

3)The ACPC reviews cases involving the death of a child where abuse or neglect are known or suspected to be a factor in the death - see Working Together to Safeguard Children. A guide to inter-agency working to protect the welfare of children.

* The following documents are available on LGCnet this morning (click to view):

Summary report

Action plan

Birmingham City Council statement

Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service statement

Care proceedings fact sheet

Area Child Protection Committee fact sheet

Home Office statement

Immigration and child care - Duties of local authorities fact sheet

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