Report into the death of kyra Ishaq - 11:30 am, Wed 28th Jul 2010
This week saw the publication of the long awaited Serious Case Review into the death of Kyra Ishaq, who died in Handsworth in 2008 in truly shocking circumstances. It should be stressed from the outset that whatever failures there were on the part of the authorities it was the guardians of Kyra who were ultimately responsible for her death. However it is clear from the report and the evidence given in court that the death of Kyra was preventable. Kyra’s school, who deserve a great of credit, tried on numerous occasions to alert the Social Services Department at Birmingham City Council that something was very wrong with the way Kyra was being cared for. They even tried to visit Kyra at home but were refused entry to the property. The report makes clear that if Social Services had listened to the concerns of the school then Kyra could have been saved. Whilst the report does not change my perception of what went wrong it does provide useful evidence of how information was not properly shared between public bodies. This is a factor of vital importance if we are to stop tragedies like this happening again, action is required now to change the management structure so that priorities are arranged around sharing information. It is also evident in the report that social workers and their management were fearful of antagonising Kyra’s guardians, this led to the needs of the child being forgotten. Perhaps the most critical problem at Birmingham Social Services is the recruitment and retention of staff, whilst this problem is not unique to Birmingham it is deeply concerning and requires urgent action. I have argued for many years that Birmingham City Council should work closely with our world class educational institutions to develop social workers. But beyond that the management structure must change so that social workers are properly supported throughout their careers. This report makes clear that there are symptomatic problems within Social Services in Birmingham, problems that cannot be ignored and require urgent and comprehensive action.