Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brandon Muir: Independent Review

An independent review into the death of Dundee toddler Brandon Muir released yesterday has identified weaknesses in the way the authorities attempted to safeguard him from harm. The two-part review consisted of an independent inquiry into the events leading up to Brandon’s death, conducted by former Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary Peter Wilson, and a significant case review undertaken by independent social work consultant Jimmy Hawthorn.

Key points in the final days of Brandon;

• Brandon Muir and his sibling had been living with their mother at the home of her parents in Charleston for almost four months up until the point when Heather Boyd established a relationship with Robert Cunningham and moved back with him to her flat in Douglas. She removed Brandon from her parents’ home to live with her and Cunningham on 26 February and his sibling on 1 March 2008.

• The grandparents immediately raised their concerns with Social Work.

• Social Workers who had a previous knowledge of Heather and her children through her office appointment in November 2007 and her attendance at the Family Support Centre, became concerned about her change of attitude, and convened an urgent meeting of child protection partners. (28th February 2008)

• The meeting concluded that an urgent case conference should be convened (set for 18th March 2008), but that there were no immediate grounds for removing the children at that time. There were a number of contacts and visits to the family by social work and health professionals in the intervening period, and Brandon was voluntarily brought by his mother to have his gait checked by the family GP. No significant medical concerns were identified or recorded.

• Brandon Muir died on 16th March 2008 following a violent assault by Robert Cunningham.

• The Review concludes that the assault on Brandon Muir by Robert Cunningham which proved to be fatal, could not have been predicted, and that in the short period when Brandon was living with his mother and Robert Cunningham there was little opportunity for the authorities to prevent the fatal assault on Brandon.

• Although it later became known that H had been taking drugs and had been involved in prostitution, this had never come to the attention of any of the agencies she was involved with.

The Review found that professionals involved had quickly responded to the emerging risk to the family as it was known, and had initiated appropriate steps to consider their needs. However, it was revealed that there were a number of factors affecting the leadership, resourcing, and practice of child protection in Dundee at that time. Some of these matters were identified and addressed as a result of early internal review work, others have been identified and addressed in consequence of the Joint Inspection of Child Protection in Dundee. A number of recommendations and observations were made aimed at further strengthening the child protection arrangements.

Full Review (pdf) Source Dundee Children and Young Persons Protection Committee 19 August 2009


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