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Social workers ‘failed’ boy neglected so badly by child in cage monster docs thought he had leukaemia

A boy badly neglected by a serial child abuser was failed by social workers, a report has found.

The four-year-old, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was found alone, wearing pyjamas in the rain.

He had so many bruises that doctors thought he had leukaemia.

A Significant Case Learning Review (SCLR), published last week, said the “needs” of the boy – referred to as Child H – had “been lost”.



Cot cage used by Claire Boyle

And it states staff need to ensure social workers are ­properly trained so they can adequately deal with their cases.

Convicted abuser Claire Boyle was supposed to be looking after Child H when he was discovered wandering the streets.

Boyle, 35, had two previous convictions for child neglect when she was caring for the youngster, now eight.

Social workers from both South Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council were supposed to be monitoring her.

Boyle was convicted of ­negelecting the boy this year. Her mistreatment of him and another child only came to light after he squeezed through a six-inch gap in a window to escape her flat. He was found in Newmilns, Ayrshire, in October 2018.

Police investigating then found another boy, aged two, being kept in a homemade cage at the home Boyle shared with her boyfriend Timothy Johnstone.

The SCLR stated there was “limited evidence the boy’s views were being sought directly from him, documented or acted upon” and that “there was a lack of evidence of a joined-up approach across agencies to consider the child’s… holistic needs”.



Boyle had two previous convictions for child neglect when she was caring for the youngster

It also stated “there was a lack of evidence of a trauma informed approach… and a lack of training and awareness” and that ­“information sharing between services was clunky, which limited effective decision making”. It added: “Although there are examples of good practice and positive intent, the needs of the child have been lost in the ­application of systems and approaches that have not ­necessarily focused on his specific needs or wants. It was not child centred.

“Good communication, ­supervision, staff support and training are key organisational and professional requirements. Staff in South Ayrshire did not feel this was always the case.”

The review stated lessons have and will be learned.

It added: “This review has identified a number of ­procedural and practice issues, from which multi-agency learning can be drawn and many of the issues identified have featured in previous SCLRs across Scotland.

“It has been recognised by the review team that ­individual agencies have already reflected on ­practices highlighted within the report and have instigated significant changes in relation to process and practice in order to address some of the concerns.”

The review also outlined other areas where the ­councils concerned need to improve, from seeking the views of the children involved and recording them “clearly” to “refreshing standards of record keeping and the tools to support it”.

Boyle and Johnstone, 58, were convicted at ­Kilmarnock Sheriff Court earlier this year.

She was sentenced to 250 hours unpaid work and told she would be ­supervised for 18 months. Johnstone was sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work and put under ­supervision for 18 months.

An NSPCC Scotland ­spokesman said: “This was an awful case of child neglect and it’s very clear from the review’s findings that more could have been done to help the child.

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“Protecting children from harm must be an absolute priority and it’s important all agencies involved now carefully consider and implement each of this report’s recommendations.”

Tim Eltringham, director for South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, and Craig McArthur, director for East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said in a joint ­statement: “Working with our child protection partners, ­collectively we strive to ­safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of every child in Ayrshire by continually reviewing and improving our services to provide the best possible care for vulnerable children.

“Sadly, in the case of Child H, we were not in a position to avert the harm done and we fully accept the findings of the SCLR.”

Contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or help@nspcc.org.uk



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