A GOVERNMENT minister expressed his “deep concerns” yesterday over a serious case review (SCR) into the death of a four-year-old boy who was starved by his mother, saying it had failed to fully explain “missed opportunities to protect children in the house”.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson was responding to the publication of the SCR into the case of Hamzah Khan, whose decomposed body was found in a cot in his Bradford home in 2011, almost two years after he died.
Mother-of-eight Amanda Hutton, 43, was jailed for 15 years last month after she was found guilty of Hamzah’s manslaughter and neglecting five of her other children.
At her trial it emerged how a range of agencies had contact with her family but no-one spotted the danger the children were in.
The SCR into that contact concluded that Hamzah was “invisible for almost a lifetime”.
The minister wrote to Professor Nick Frost, who chairs the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board yesterday, saying: “I have deep concerns over the Hamzah Khan serious case review.
“In particular, I am concerned that it fails to explain sufficiently clearly the actions taken, or not taken, by children’s social care when problems in the Khan family were brought to their attention on a number of occasions.”
Mr Timpson set out a series of questions he believed needed to be answered relating to the contact different agencies had with Hutton and her family.
He said: “All of these were missed opportunities to protect the children in the house.
“It is tragic beyond words that by the time a health visitor did trigger concerns about the whereabouts of the younger children in the household, who were missing from health and education services altogether, Hamzah Khan was already dead.”
At a press conference in Bradford yesterday, Prof Frost denied the report he ordered was a “whitewash” and stressed that it had been undertaken by independent people.
He said: “It’s not a whitewash. I will undertake the action requested by the minister. We are totally committed to transparency in this case.”
Alcoholic Hutton was living in “breathtakingly awful’’ conditions with five of her young children as well as Hamzah’s mummified remains when shocked police entered her four-bedroom house in September 2011.
A jury at Bradford Crown Court found she had allowed Hamzah to starve to death in December 2009 and left his body in a cot with a teddy.
The remains were only discovered due to a police community support officer’s tenacious pursuit of a minor anti-social behaviour complaint because she suspected something was wrong.
The family was known to all the main agencies, partly due to a long history of violence Hutton suffered at the hands of Hamzah’s father, Aftab Khan.
But Hutton failed to co-operate with many children’s services and the SCR found that Hamzah slipped below the radar and was invisible.
He missed a range of health-related appointments and there were no medical records on him from the age of two weeks until he died, aged four and a half.
His GP eventually removed him from his list.
Prof Frost concluded: “The SCR is very clear that Hamzah’s death could not have been predicted but finds that systems, many of them national systems, let Hamzah down both before and following his death.”
He said: “I am satisfied that systems are in place today that minimise the chance of a situation such as this ever being repeated in Bradford.”
Prof Frost and the director of children’s services in Bradford, Kath Tunstall, insisted Hamzah’s predicament had not been picked up due to systems failures rather than individual professionals’ mistakes.