Children’s Commissioner failing Vulnerable Children
Child Youth and Family (CYF) have acknowledged that they did not conduct an investigation into the death of a 13 month old baby who died in a bath tub drowning in November 2012.
The story was first discussed here in the post multi-tasking manslaughter.
The victim’s mother was subsequently charged with manslaughter and found not guilty in October 2013.
A follow-up story by journalist Phil kitchin detailed the father’s frustration about evidence that was withheld from the mother’s trial.
– The baby’s father told police in a formal witness statement that the mother repeatedly left another baby unattended in an upstairs bath.
– The mother had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, was known to Child, Youth and Family, and had left her children unattended in a car as she shopped.
– Another witness said the mother twice threatened to make the father of the baby “regret it” if he left her again.
Following a protracted ombudsmen’s investigation over a complaint for failing to respond to a request for official information, Acting Deputy Chief Executive (CYF) Paula Attrill has outlined that their response to the child’s death is
“in accordance with an agreement with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.”
“These reviews occur where the child or young person was in care at the time of their death, where there was an open investigation or assessment at the time of their death, or where there was an intervention in the 12 months preceding their death.”
In this case a practice review has not been undertaken and no changes in procedures have been made.
Attrill also acknowledged that to date CYF had not been approached by the Police to provide any information for a coronial inquiry or that CYF has been part of a coronial inquiry.
This child’s right to a reasonable investigation into their death has been omitted, supposedly, on the basis of the above agreement between the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Child Youth and Family.
While there may or may not have been reasonable grounds to provide selected information to a jury in a manslaughter case, there certainly cannot be reasonable grounds for not providing all relevant information to the coroner.
CYF were aware of the death at the time and immediately investigated the child’s family as they were known to CYF, but have not reviewed their previous interventions on the basis of the above agreement.
Both the Police and CYF have a vested interest in not pursuing this matter and this child has been left legally and ethically unrepresented, the coroner has been left in the dark, and the mother has name suppression.
Where does that leave the father?
Given the shortcomings by cyf in this and many other cases it should have been realised by now that cyf are unable or unwilling to take proper care of children and their families. However it should also be added that cyf cannot function properly as an investigative branch of the law. There are too many cases of cyf acting improperly in courts [including outright perjury] for the organisation to be trusted. This case is clearly one for the police and for the coroner to have the power to make the police do their job properly.
Interesting comparison, a CYF case where the child’s death required investigating has its conclusion with the release of the coroners report … 6 years later!