Agencies missed chance to protect murdered Sheffield girl

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A TEENAGE girl stabbed to death by her former lover for bringing shame on his family was known by 15 different agencies before she was murdered, a serious case review has revealed.

Rotherham’s social services and South Yorkshire Police were among the list of agencies who ‘lost sight’ of 17-year-old Laura Wilson and yesterday they apologised for their failings and said lessons had been learned.

They admitted there had been ‘missed opportunities’ to carry out a full assessment of her needs and a lack of joined-up work between the agencies involved with her.

Laura Wilson, of Birch Park Court, Holmes, Rotherham, was repeatedly stabbed and then dumped in a canal near her home by 18-year-old Ashtiaq Asghar in October 2010.

The young mum, who had a four-month-old daughter from a relationship with another Asian man, was knifed to death after she told the families of both her lovers about her relationships with the pair.

Asghar pleaded guilty to the killing and when he was jailed for 17 years Lord Justice Davis described Laura’s death as ‘simply an exercise in punishment’.

The serious case review found that despite Laura being placed on the Child Protection Register when she was 11, assessed as having special educational needs and being regularly absent from school, she still slipped through the net.

A police probe into allegations of sexual exploitation in the Ferham area of Rotherham also identified Laura as being at risk but because the youngster, and scores of other girls between 13 and 16, refused to co-operate police were unable to take any action against any of the men alleged have been grooming and abusing young girls.

Detective chief inspector Craig Robinson said the investigation was mounted following information passed on which could not be proved.

Author Pat Cantrill said Laura had been ‘a difficult child for agencies to work with’ and failed to co-operate with some.

She was also said to have been adept at keeping professionals at arm’s length but she was not challenged enough to get to the root causes of her problems.

None of the agencies involved with the teenager regarded her as ‘the highly vulnerable child she was’.

Ms Cantrill said there was a lack of co-ordination between all the agencies.

Referring to Laura as Child S, the report said: “The care of Child S did not focus on her and her needs. She was almost invisible to services.

“There were numerous missed opportunities to work with and protect Child S.”

The report found ‘a number of occasions’ when Laura was discharged from services without any follow-up appointments or assessments to check on her progress.

Alan Hazell, chairman of Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “There is no suggestion that anyone could have saved Child S from what ultimately happened to her but clearly her care could have been improved.

“There were chances for those agencies to be more proactive in how they dealt with the case and all agencies involved accept that and apologise that the standards of service were not as high as they should have been.”