CoramBAAF Comment on the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board Shi-Anne Downer Serious Case Review

Issue date: 22/02/2017

The details of this serious case review are a tragedy of the first order.  Shi-Anne Downer was 18 months when she died at the hands of Kandyce Downer.  Shi-Anne was removed from her mother shortly after birth, placed in foster care where she progressed well and then with Kandyce. At the point when she died, she was seen to have 150 injuries.  There are a number of questions addressed by the Review and this includes the robustness of the assessment of Kandyce as a suitable carer and the support and supervision made available to her and Shi-Anne.  As a part of this, serious questions are raised about the decision making of the local authority and the court in legitimising the placement through a Special Guardianship Order.  Special Guardianship Orders have proved to be a positive route to establishing a family for children who cannot be cared for by their own parents especially for family and friend carers.  But there have been too many examples where the robustness of the planning and decision-making and the subsequent availability of support has been poor, not backed up by evidence and placing the child who is already at risk at even more risk. 

It must become a priority for the Department of Education to ensure that Special Guardianship is used safely and effectively in the best interests of children, which it can do.  But appropriate safeguards must be put in place to ensure that the tragedy that befell Shi-Anne never happens again to any other child.

John Simmonds OBE, Director of Policy, Research and Development, CoramBAAF