Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 14:12 UK

Nottinghamshire social services criticised over death

Charlotte Avenall's bedroom
Charlotte was forced to use her chest of drawers as a toilet

Social workers responsible for the safety of a child found hanged after suffering neglect were under-trained and overworked, a report has found.

Eight-year-old Charlotte Avenall, who died after being locked in her "filthy" Nottinghamshire bedroom, had been known to social workers for several years.

The county council's care was described as "inadequate" by education watchdog Ofsted which carried out the report.

Some staff were moved to other posts following the case, the council said.

Inspectors found that case-workers knew Charlotte's parents locked her in her bedroom at night.

Delays in action

Susan Moody, 24, and her husband Simon, 32, were each sentenced to a year in jail last month after pleading guilty to child neglect.

Charlotte, who had severe learning difficulties, was found at home in Moor Street, Mansfield, on 12 September.

At a press conference earlier, director of children and young people's services Anthony May said the council had been too focused on providing Charlotte's parents with the right support to look after a disabled child - rather than assessing whether she was in danger.

He added: "I accept the report's findings and I am committed to continuing to improve services.

"It is going to take hard work and going to take time."

Charlotte was forced to use her chest of drawers as a toilet and had smeared excrement on the walls and ceiling of her bedroom.

Social workers had visited the family's house weeks before she died, but failed to make a follow-up appointment after finding nobody at home.

'Poor' assessments

Ofsted's report stated: "There is a significant shortage of frontline social work staff and the demand for the service, particularly referrals and re-referrals, has increased by 43% resulting in children not being effectively safeguarded."

Simon and Susan Moody
Simon and Susan Moody were jailed for child neglect

Inspectors found the quality of assessments was often poor and there were delays in assessing children that could be at risk, as well as in taking action over those identified as at risk of significant harm.

A backlog of 140 children awaiting assessment was found in one office.

In its own serious case review into Charlotte's death, the county council said the staff who dealt with the case had been retrained and more staff had been employed.

The authority admitted in its report that "professionals still do not always recognise the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect in children and how to act on them".

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Charlotte's parents locked her in her bedroom at night



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SEE ALSO
Council reviews hanged girl case
10 Apr 10 |  Nottinghamshire
Pair are jailed over hanged girl
09 Apr 10 |  Nottinghamshire
Funeral for hanged neglect girl
26 Mar 10 |  Nottinghamshire

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Trent FM Hanged Girl Report: Care 'Inadequate' - 11 hrs ago
IC Scotland Tragic youngster's care condemned - 39 hrs ago
Worksop Guardian Report condemns care offered to hanged girl - 40 hrs ago
Huddersfield Daily Examiner National News: Tragic youngster's care condemned - 40 hrs ago
The Independent Disabled girl found hanged after 'failings' - 41 hrs ago


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