Arthur Labinjo-Hughes ‘paid with his life’ for overstretched services


Ex-Tory minister Tim Loughton has blasted how social services have been funded and developed in recent years (Picture: PA/Rex/SWNS)

A former Conservative children’s minister has called for more funding for children’s services in the wake of the mruder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

The six-year-old’s death raises serious questions about why the neglect and abuse was not spotted earlier by authorities. 

He died after suffering an unsurvivable brain injury sustained while in the sole care of Emma Tustin, 32, in Solihull last June.

She was jailed for 29 years for murder yesterday, alongside her partner and Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes.

He received a 21-year sentence for manslaughter after a court case which detailed the horrific abuse Arthur had endured prior to his death.

A major review has been launched to see if opportunities were missed by social services to protect Arthur.

The government has vowed to act on any recommendations and the case could prompt an overhaul over how vulnerable children are cared for.

Arthur was starved and poisoned in the run up to his death at just six-years-old (Picture: PA)

Former minister Tim Loughton said we all have a duty to make sure other at-risk youngsters are not let down by social care like Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises following his death.

He wrote in The Sun: ‘Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service.

‘Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

‘This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is.’

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court that the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’.

Questions have been raised over whether the closure of schools during lockdown was a factor in signs of abuse being missed (Picture: SWNS)

Boris Johnson said investigators should leave ‘absolutely no stone unturned’ to establish what went wrong in the ‘appalling’ case.

The review is expected to look at whether lockdown and the lack of oversight from teachers played a role in signs being missed.

Former children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield said very vulnerable children ‘have continued to slip from view’, and that she is ‘heartbroken’ and ‘sickened’ by the killing.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘For anyone who looks at the serious case reviews, or hears about them, that come after a child’s death, you will see the same things coming up time and time again – missed opportunities, lack of co-ordination, lack of data-sharing – the things that professionals need to have at hand to be able to protect these children, which still aren’t in place.’

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi is expected to address parliament about the implication of the case on Monday.

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