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Hamzah Khan serious case review shows signs were missed

Professionals overlooked signs that could have saved him, says NSPCC CEO

13 November 2013

The serious case review (SCR) into the death of Hamzah Khan shows that professionals and agencies missed signs that could have prevented his death.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said:
"This deeply saddening case reveals a host of issues that go far wider than just the mother of Hamzah Khan.

"More than anything this case highlights how small but timely interventions at crucial points from professionals, but from the public too, could have prevented this tragedy.

"Tragically Hamzah became invisible, slipping off the radar of our entire society the moment he left hospital after birth. We have to ask how this could happen in 21st century Britain.

"His mother made no attempt to register his birth; he missed midwife appointments, health visitor checks, immunisations; and he was never registered for school.

"A red flag must be raised when key appointments are missed so that children cannot disappear.

"It cannot be right that the first time someone took serious steps to track him down was six years after his birth by which time he was already dead.

"Even then his body was only discovered because of reports of vandalism from a neighbour and the tenacity of PCSO Jodie Dunsmore who refused to ignore her instincts when she noticed a strong smell in the house.

"She sets an example to everyone whether they are a child protection professional or not. Services working with adults - particularly where there is evidence of
domestic violence, mental health problems or substance misuse - must think about the children in that adult's life. 'See parent, think children'.

"It is utterly depressing that the first time all the information about the risks in Hamzah's life were pulled together is a report which has only been written because he is dead.

"No one professional held all the information whilst he was alive to pull together the fuller picture that might have saved him.

"And sadly, despite some early concerns raised by neighbours or family, little was done and chances to turn around his family's life were missed.

"People must speak out and when they do, action must be taken, especially if a child has been brave enough to speak out. One of Hamzah's siblings did just that.

"Neglect is so often not seen as serious child abuse despite being present in 60 per cent of cases resulting in death or serious injury. It can and does kill.

"It's far too late for little Hamzah but there will be other children living like him across the UK right now and it's not too late for them.

"Almost one in 10 children in the UK are neglected by their parents or carers. I'd urge the public to do their bit and report any concerns they have - it may be the trigger that gets a family the support they need to turn their lives around for the better.

"And the system must change to one which constantly and consistently focuses on the child with probing questions when children are not seen or miss key appointments. We cannot allow any child to disappear like Hamzah did."

Contact the NSPCC if you're worried about a child

We continue to encourage people to report instances of suspected child abuse to either the police, social services or our 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

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