Safeguarding partnership gives more details about seven Northamptonshire child deaths during lockdown

The safeguarding partnership has said there has been an increasing number of small babies who have died in the past year in which co-sleeping has been a contributory factor.

Northamptonshire’s Child Safeguarding Partnership has given more information about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of seven Northamptonshire children during lockdown.

The partnership – whose role is to ensure effective services are provided to Northamptonshire’s children – has released a new statement following an NHS safeguarding report published last week (Aug 18) which said that seven children had tragically died in the lockdown months between April and July.

The report – which was written by chief nurse at the Northamptonshire Commissioning Group Angela Dempsey – said child safeguarding practice reviews, which are carried out in cases where a child has died of neglect or abuse, were highly likely for all the deaths, six of which were of babies or toddlers.

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However the safeguarding partnership, of which Angela Dempsey is a lead member, has now said that element of her report was incorrect. So far one child safeguarding practice review has been opened.

It’s statement said: “Most deaths of children in this period were either attributable to natural causes, or medical/health related complications.

“None of the cases open to Children’s Services at the time of the death has been treated as suspicious, and there is no suggestion there is parental blame for the deaths.

“The process for immediate notification and review has been followed, and no concerns have been raised about practice in any of the open cases.

“It is acknowledged, however, that we have an increasing number of very young babies who have died in the past year where so-called ‘co-sleeping’ is a possible contributory factor.

“This is also a national concern and a report on this issue was published by National Panel in July 2020.

“A multi-agency group of professionals led by Public Health are looking at guidelines and actions as well as developing a local campaign to reinforce safer sleeping messages.

“At the same time, different agencies have taken immediate steps to ensure messages around safer sleeping are reviewed by practitioners with parents of young babies, and more actions may be implemented as the multi-agency group puts forward its recommendations.

“A statement made at the CCG meeting on August 18 was incorrect and is not supported by the NSCP or any of its constituent partners.

“Safeguarding partners work closely together to ensure there is support for vulnerable children and families in Northamptonshire and safeguarding arrangements are in place to respond appropriately to the unprecedented conditions created by Covid-19 pandemic.”

The report makes clear that some of the deaths were of children who were known already to Northamptonshire children’s services. The department has however refused to answer questions on the deaths for the past week.

The July report published by the national safeguarding panel looked at the sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) in families where the children are considered at significant risk of harm.

Northamptonshire’s children’s services are currently rated as inadequate and are being overseen by government appointed children’s commissioner Andrew Christie.

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