The social work profession received another blow yesterday after the High Court found failures by social services staff led to the death of Khyra Ishaq.
The judge condemned the Birmingham City Council social workers involved in the case of the seven-year-old girl who was starved to death, saying she would still be alive if they had done their jobs properly.
Ishaq died despite four visits to the family home by five different officials charged with taking care of vulnerable children in Birmingham, including social workers, police and local authority home-schooling officials, the Times reported.
The council’s children’s services department was labelled “unfit for purpose” last year after it was found that 16 children known to social workers, including Ishaq, had died of abuse or neglect in five years.
But the department defended its role in Ishaq’s case, and blamed her death on a lack of sufficient powers to intervene.
No member of staff from the department has lost their job or been disciplined over the case.
Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood has now called on education secretary Ed Balls to launch an independent inquiry into the failing department.
But Balls said he would wait for the results of a serious case review before deciding what action to take.
“There are clearly serious questions to be answered about what local services and professionals were doing in the months before this tragedy took place,” he said. “As the trial has shown, it is now clear that concerns about these children were not acted upon effectively, and it is right that a serious case review has been carried out.”
The government has now launched a £15,000 incentive to encourage graduates to retrain as social workers to combat the issue.