William Eichler 15 September 2016

Council apologises for deaths of two teenagers in their care

Sunderland Council has apologised ‘strongly and unreservedly’ after an independent review discovered it failed two teenage girls who died in 2013.

The council’s Safeguarding Children Board commissioned the independent study to look at issues emerging from a number of serious case reviews between 2013 to 2015.

It found the safeguarding workforce was under considerable pressure both in terms of time and resource, a problem made worse by insufficient leadership direction and the lack of an integrated approach.

This led, the report concluded, to inconsistencies and the opportunity for human error.

Responding to the report, Jane Held, the independent chair of Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board, said: ‘The deaths of both these girls were tragic and distressing. They had a devastating impact on everyone who knew them.

‘It is a great sadness for all involved, especially for their families and those providing care to the girls that despite very intensive levels of professional care and intervention, their deaths were not prevented.

‘We want to apologise strongly and unreservedly to everyone for letting them down and failing to protect them.’

‘We owe it to the girls to learn from what happened in their lives to help improve services to other young people in similar circumstances and try to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future,’ she added.

Commenting on the report’s conclusions, Ms Held said: ‘The executive summaries make it clear that no one agency is culpable for the girls' deaths. They also show there were many dedicated individual professionals working hard to protect and support the girls and minimise the risks they were exposed to.

‘Nevertheless we completely accept that the agencies involved in the girls' care acting as their corporate parents did not do enough to support them which is something I deeply regret.’

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