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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Social services criticised over boy's death
Ashley Chadburn
Two-year-old Ashley Chadburn died in December 2001

An inquiry into the death of a two-year-old boy who swallowed a bottle of his mother's methadone found a "tolerance of drug misuse" among social services staff.

But the independent report concluded the tragic death of Ashley Chadburn, from Frechville, Sheffield, could not have been avoided.

The toddler died in December 2001 after finding an open bottle of the heroin substitute methadone.

Rachael Hipkiss, a heroin addict, is currently serving a six-year jail sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

The report criticised the lack of communication between agencies trying to help Ms Hipkiss, a known addict.

And it said there was too much tolerance of drug misuse by staff at Sheffield Social Services.

Patterns of violence

Report author Roger Thompson, told BBC Look North: "I'm hoping one of the outcomes of this report is to make sure people take a high level of vigilance where there are drug misusing parents who have the care of young children.

"Plus, where you have continual patterns of domestic violence, that the responsible agencies do take action to try and tackle it."

Representatives of the NHS, Social Services and South Yorkshire Police all attended the briefing to launch the report.

All said they had accepted the 26 recommendations and over half of them had already been put in place.

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