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Sunderland Social Services: 'Complacency over baby death'

Sunderland Social Services have been accused of complacency and repeated poor practice, after the baby of a heroin addict died at just a few weeks old.

The Serious Case Review has raised a catalogue of concerns, including social workers making meaningless notes, following poor practice and at times a 'sense of paralysis'.

But, most worryingly, it raises fears that social services have made similar mistakes in OTHER deaths.

The report highlights years of failings before Baby A was even born.

Social workers who visited the mother, because she was a heroin addict and they had concerns about another child.

But the report said social workers made 'meaningless notes', professionals repeated poor practice and at times seemed 'in paralysis' about tackling her addiction.

In their offices, they 'repeated meetings over and over again' with the same goals, and little evidence of progress.

And there was 'systemic failure' in how they kept information.

In 2013, the mother took heroin leading up to Baby A's birth - and left hospital with the baby without even a visit from a social worker.

A midwife didn't make it clear how much danger Baby A was in from the after-effects of heroin, and eventually, baby A had a heart attack.

The authors concluded that social services had been complacent and lacked leadership.

There are now 8 serious case reviews into concerns of deaths abuse or neglect of children in Sunderland, more than most other councils in the entire country, and the safeguarding board were worried about similarities between this case and the deaths of other babies under 1 year old.

And they were worried that the lessons from all these reviews aren't getting through to the frontline.

Watch the response from Neil Revely Director of People's Services and Colin Morris Sunderland Children's Safeguarding Board:

Newcastle expect 'strong card' for Fighting Fifth

Newcastle Racecourse is expecting a 'strong card' for this weekend's Fighting Fifth.

The event, a Grade I National Hunt Hurdle Race, is one of the venue's showpiece meetings and the highlight of the jumps season at Newcastle. Many past winners have also gone on to taste success in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham the following year.

James Armstrong, the clerk of the course, is expecting a competitive line-up for Saturday's race. He said:

We'll wait and see what the declarations are on Thursday morning but hopefully we're looking for a strong card.

– James Armstrong, Course Clerk at Newcastle Racecourse

When asked which horse he believes will win the race, Armstrong added:

Irving - if he stays on his feet and doesn't make the same mistakes as he did at Wincanton - would have to be a strong favourite and probable winner.

– James Armstrong, Course Clerk at Newcastle Racecourse

The Fighting Fifth takes place at 2:05pm on Saturday 29 November and the going is currently soft.


Massive police crackdown on travelling criminals

Police handler with dog in Operation Checkpoint

139 vehicles were stopped and cash and drugs seized in a joint police operation across the north of England.

Five police forces took part in Operation Checkpoint which ran from 3pm to 1am on Tuesday November 25 with the aim of providing reassurance patrols across rural communities, gathering intelligence and intercepting travelling criminals.

The operation saw more than 80 officers from North Yorkshire, Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria and Northumbria Police, take to the roads in what is the fourth operation of its kind, designed to create a hostile environment for travelling criminals to operate.

Intelligence shows that organised crime groups are targeting rural areas, moving across county borders in the north of England to steal goods, predominantly from rural communities.

Car stopped in Operation Checkpoint

DURHAM RESULTS 17 Vehicles stopped One fixed penalty issued for speeding Two vehicle defect rectification notices issued

NORTHUMBRIA RESULTS 10 vehicles stopped Assisted with arrest of Sunderland man in North Yorkshire and carried out related search of premises in Sunderland

CLEVELAND RESULTS Two vehicles stopped Crime prevention patrols in the Eston Hills area targeting illegal off-road bikes

Dog thefts rise dramatically in our region

Dog thefts in our region have risen by almost a third in just three years.

There have been 60 incidents in the last year - 28 percent more than two years earlier.

North Yorkshire has seen the biggest increase. There were two thefts in 2011, but already there have been 17 so far this year.

Footage of dogs being stolen.

This footage of two dogs being stolen last week went viral on social networks, making Nelson and Brock too hot to handle.

They were reunited with their owners hours later.

But dog thefts in our region are on the rise. In the 12 months to September this year dogs were stolen in 60 separate incidents across the North East's four police forces.

Joanne Smith had her two Labradors Jack and Hamish stolen in June 2013 in the yard of her farmhouse on the County Durham/ North Yorkshire border:

The reasons behind an increase in dog thefts are varied.

Some are being sold on the internet while others are being taken for breeding or even illegal dog fighting.

The Blue Cross organisation has the following tips for keeping your dogs safe:

  • Don't leave your dog tied up outside a shop where they are vulnerable and a potential target
  • Don't leave your dog alone in the car
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped
  • Your dog should always wear a collar and ID tag with your name and address on it
  • Take clear photos of your dog to help prove ownership if necessary
  • Have lots of photos of you with your dog
  • Take care when choosing a dog minder
  • Beware of strangers asking questions about your dog
  • Vary walk times and routes
  • Keep your garden secure
  • Keep your dog in view in the garden
  • If you breed puppies for sale, watch who you invite in to view
  • Decide who owns the dog in your household. Pets can become the centre of ownership disputes in the event of bereavement or break-up

Mark Dixon death: Manslaughter charge

A 28-year-old man has been charged with manslaughter following an alleged incident in which 32-year-old Mark Dixon suffered serious head injuries.

Mr Dixon later died in hospital.

The alleged incident took place at around 4am on Sunday October 5 on Victoria Road in Hartlepool.

The man will appear at Hartlepool Magistrates Court on Wednesday 31st December.

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