Key ‘improvement’ in child protection nine years after tragic death of Poppi Worthington

A POLITICIAN says there have been signs of improvement in child protection nearly nine years to the day since the tragic death of Poppi Worthington.

The Barrow toddler died in December 2012 and was sexually abused before her death, according to a coroner.

Lord Walney said it was vital that information was shared between authorities to stop children ‘falling through the cracks’.

As Barrow’s MP at the time he urged the Government to adopt ‘Poppi’s Law’, saying increased data sharing between health workers and social services would reduce the risk to children born to troubled parents and ‘save lives’.

The crossbench peer has now received assurances from the Government that pregnant whose children are likely to need a care plan from birth can be included in the Child Protection – Information Sharing Project.

Lord Kamall told him that unborn children on a protection plan can be on the system with the pregnant woman’s National Health Service number.

Lord Walney said: “This is hopefully an indication of a positive improvement in the child protection system after Poppi Worthington’s terrible death exposed the relative risk of unborn and newborn babies falling through the cracks.

“The haunting tragedies of neglected children who have died since Poppi herself was killed sadly underline that there is no one simple solution to preventing appalling harm. Protection from public agencies will never be all encompassing, and we have seen time and again how badly stretched our social care system has become over the years.

“But Poppi’s circumstances show that there could be real benefit in doing more to identify babies set to be born into particularly vulnerable families so they are being proactively checked from day one. It is good that the government is saying this can now be done in principle, I hope ministers will meet Simon Fell to examine if this is actually happening in practice.”

A serious care review carried out by the Cumbria safeguarding board after Poppi’s death found health visitors had no knowledge of the background of her mother or intelligence about dad Paul Worthington and so did not alert social services that she might be at risk.

The family set-up at home was judged to be ‘noisy and chaotic’ but Poppi was described as ‘appearing to be a happy and healthy baby’ by professionals.

Failures in the police investigation into Poppi’s death meant no criminal charge could be brought against Mr Worthington despite two coroners ruling that he had probably sexually abused her just before her death in the early hours of December 12 2012.

Cumbria coroner David Roberts concluded Poppi suffocated as she slept next to her father in an ‘unsafe sleeping environment’.

‘Poppi’s Law’ was designed to require care and abuse history of pregnant women and their partners to be visible to health visitors and pre-natal NHS staff, allowing social workers to make more informed decisions about the level of protection to give newborn children born into families with a history of vulnerability.

Poppi was not known to social services before she died at home in Barrow in 2012 despite her mother having previously had a long history of contact with children’s services, including having a previous child taken into permanent care and past allegations of child abuse made against Poppi’s father, which were withdrawn.

Mr Worthington denied any wrongdoing regarding Poppi’s death and has never been charged with any offence.

He appeared at the inquest but refused to answer 252 questions.

The Westmorland Gazette | News