Three criminal investigations are ongoing into child protection highlighted in Sandwell report

Council of Sandwell

The report, titled “Sandwell’s Children’s Safeguarding Partnership Annual Report 2021-21”, covered all children (0-17 years old) involved in some form of safeguarding issues at Sandwell from April 2020 to March 2021.

In the report, a six-year-old child drowned after being left unattended in a bath, and a baby just three days old died in the care of his mother in Sandwell.

And these are just two of eight shocking incidents involving babies and young children to be uncovered in the borough.

In another case, an eight-week-old baby died of “non-accidental” head injuries while in the care of his parents.

A seven-month-old baby suffered “significant” injuries to the head and body perpetrated by his father, who also assaulted his mother.

A total of eight serious backup incidents were recorded. Four cases were deemed “not meeting the threshold” for further escalations.

Three cases were subject to a wider national review, while one case was ‘re-reviewed’ with an active joint investigation by a neighboring local authority.

All of the incidents took place during the lockdown and were recorded as hospital visits in 2020 and 2021. The report was released in January and discussed at a full meeting of Sandwell council.

West Midlands Police said an “ongoing investigation” was underway into the case of an 11-month-old child who suffered from sepsis and extensive burns caused by an extreme rash. No arrests were made.

And asked about an incident involving a six-year-old child with medical conditions, who drowned while left unattended in a bath, West Midlands Police said: “A man from Smethwick, who, at the time of the child’s death, was 36 -old was arrested was arrested on July 1, 2021, on suspicion of child neglect.

“Following his questioning, he was released and remains on bail as our complex investigation continues.”

A man who attacked a mother and her seven-month-old baby has been jailed.

Aamer Araf stabbed the woman until she lost consciousness and swung her son by the legs, banging his head against the walls, during the attack in May 2020, West Midlands Police said.

The BBC reported that Mr Araf admitted causing serious bodily harm at Wolverhampton Crown Court. The 33-year-old was sentenced to eight years in prison and an additional four years of license upon his release.

West Midlands Police have also confirmed an inquest is continuing into the death of an eight-week-old baby, the subject of a ‘children in need plan’ who died of non-accidental head injuries while was in the custody of his parents.

They said: ‘A Birmingham woman, aged 25 at the time of the baby’s death, remains free on bail after being arrested on suspicion of assault. An Oldbury man, arrested on suspicion of murder, remains free on bail. He was 31 when the child died. Our investigation is continuing.

It comes as police have warned that during the pandemic many children have been trapped in homes and suffered abuse. Many have been cut off from vital support networks during the shutdowns.

The murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes crystallized this. In December, Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, was sentenced to at least 29 years for his murder.

He was physically attacked, salt poisoned and forced into solitary confinement for up to 14 hours a day at her home in Solihull, which led to his death in June 2020.

Thomas Hughes, the boy’s father, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

This week an inspection report on children’s services in Solihull noted that children remain in situations of ‘unknown and unassessed’ risk.

The report, which was released on Monday, expressed concern that in a “significant minority” of cases the safeguarding of decisions lacked “professional curiosity”.

Mark M. Gagnon