Hampshire child social care calls rise after high-profile deaths like Star Hobson and Baby P, claims report

THE number of children referred to social workers spikes every time there is a high-profile case, a new report has revealed.

Figures published by Hampshire County Council show a 21 per cent increase in the number of children in social care from 2016 to 2021.

Last year the deaths of Star Hobson and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes made national headlines as court hearings found that both children were subjected to abhorrent abuse by their parents.

County council bosses say that every time incidents like this happen, the number of children referred to the council increases.

Star Hobson was murdered by her mum's partner, Savannah Brockhill. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

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At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has had the opposite impact.

Steve Crocker, director of children's services, said: 'When there are high-profile cases like Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, people make more phone calls to the social care team. That's obviously better than not hearing about these things at all.

'But it's hard to separate the rise in referrals due to high-profile cases from the decrease due to Covid-19 - family members and teachers have seen less of these children in the past two years so that's had a knock-on effect.

'It goes to show that we must keep pushing forward, always striving to do better.'

The report was presented to the county council's children and young people select committee in Winchester today.

It came as part of a revenue report for children's services - a department set to lose £21.3m as part of ongoing budget cuts.

As part of these proposals, child social care funding could be slashed by £7.7m.

However, Mr Crocker insisted that money is never on the minds of social care workers.

'They don't go out with the financial situation playing on their mind,' he said.

'Instead, their job is simply to make the right call for the child they see in front of them - that's all we're interested in.

'With cases like Star Hobson and Baby P there was a lot of public anger, and justifiably so. But the people responsible for their deaths have been tried and convicted.

'The people who tried to help - even if they made mistakes - are not responsible for the deaths. No police officer, or social worker, goes out to do a bad job. They go out with the information they have available and while there are lessons to be learned, social care is an incredibly complex field.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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