Ten things we learned from the Arthur Labinjo-Hughes safeguarding review

260522 Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, PA
Details of what led to the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes shocked the nation Credit: Handout

A review into the aftermath of the tragic murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has painted a picture of an under-staffed, under-funded and often disjointed child protection system in Solihull.

The report, ordered by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi in December 2021, found that children in need of help and protection in the West Midlands area "wait too long for their initial need and risk to be assessed".

Six-year-old Arthur was murdered in June 2020 by his stepmother Emma Tustin at their home in Solihull.

The boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were no safeguarding concerns.

Tustin was jailed for a minimum of 29 years for his murder, while Arthur's father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

Emma Tustin (left) and her partner Thomas Hughes were found guilty of killing Arthur Labinjo-Hughes Credit: West Midlands Police

Here are ten things were learned from the review:

  • Children in need of help and protection in Solihull wait too long for their initial needand risk to be assessed. This means that for a significant number of children, theyremain in situations of unassessed and unknown risk.

  • A significant number of children identified do not have an initial review of their needs for over a month.

  • The Local Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP – Solihull’s multi-agency safeguarding arrangements) does not have a clear understanding of the impact of practice from the multi-agency support hub or the experiences of children and their families that need help and protection in their local area.

  • The multi-agency safeguarding hub is under resourced. This means that "too many children in Solihull face drift and delay in having multi-agency decisions made to assess their need, reduce risk and provide proportionate interventions".

  • The local authority has also faced long-standing difficulties in ensuring that there are enough social workers to cope - a situation that was not properly addressed last year.

  • Frequent staffing changes at LSCP have resulted in a loss of knowledge and experience for the partnership.

  • When a child protection concern is identified, timely decisions are made. However,not all agencies are invited to, or attend, child protection strategy meetings. Thismeans that decisions are being made when those present do not have all therelevant information about a child and their family.

  • Case audits reviewed by inspectors identified too much focus on process rather than the child, a lack of reflection and analysis and the prevalence of over-optimistic calls on child safety.

  • West Midlands Police need to take urgent action to improve the quality ofinformation they hold to make sure that links to connected individuals are present and accurate, and to reduce multiple records held against the same person, so that risk to children can be clearly seen, recognised and shared when appropriate.

  • Inspectors found multiple police records for the same child because a name had been spelt incorrectly.