Fiona Anderson case: Claims that lessons have been learned after death of Lowestoft woman and her three children
11:20 22 January 2014
Council chiefs said lessons had been learned after a Lowestoft woman fell to her death from a car park and then her three young children were found dead at their home.
The Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) review of the Fiona Anderson’s children’s death focused on eight areas where lessons could be learned - coming up with the following views and actions.
1 - Working with avoidant families: The LSCB planning, policy and engagement group will review, revise and republish new practice guidance on working with hard to reach and avoidant families. The LSCB will initiate a review of the current multi agency training programme, including child protection in schools, and identify best practice and research on the impact of working with families where avoidance is a pattern of behaviour.
2 - Experience of the child: Reports on progress of an already implemented Suffolk Sign and Wellbeing programme to improve front line child risk and family protection work. LSCB will also require evidence on how well children’s experiences are being implemented in a statutory assessment framework. There will be quarterly reports on the consistency of supervision across the county.
3 - Eliminating drift in the child protection process: Progress reports on improving the effectiveness of child protection conference system and the setting up of a task force looking at stop and review process for child protection plans.
4 - Effective challenge: The LSCB planning, policy and engagement group will look at new practice guidance on resolving professional guidance and ensuring area safeguarding groups are fit for purpose and have mechanisms to support and enhance multi agency challenge.
5 - Robust management oversight: The LSCB requires a report in July from the county council that shows child protection practice conducted in the Lowestoft area continues to be consistent and appropriate to the levels of senior management.
6 - Mechanisms for professional consultation: There should be the development of a mechanism for professional consultation when there are concerns as to the mental and emotional wellbeing of a patient.
7 - Chronologies and background information: The LSCB will satisfy itself that background information on cases is included as a prompt in any assessment analysis.
8 - Effective working relationships: The county council must provide information on eliminating drift in cases, formal legal processing child protection training provision will be reviewed and seminars will be held about the case to ensure the lessons learned are incorporated into training courses.
The serious case review also detailed some of the measures that Suffolk County Council’s Children and Young Peoples Services has implemented since the deaths.
It has strengthened the monitoring arrangements for checking the frequency of supervision for all frontline staff and 1,000 staff have been or will be trained in the Suffolk Signs and Wellbeing Programme by October.
Child protection plans that have been in place for 15 months are being reviewed at monthly meetings between service and safeguarding managers.
The council undertook a review of child protection conference systems to check best practice standards and in January the council introduced quarterly meetings between the heads of corporate parenting, legal services, safeguarding and lead lawyer to maintain a strategic overview of current practice and future developments.
Today a serious case review has been released into the deaths of 23-year-old Fiona Anderson’s children, Levina, aged three, two year-old Addy and Kyden, aged 11 months.
A heavily pregnant Miss Anderson died after she fell off the multi-storey car park in Gordon Road, Lowestoft, on April 15 last year.
The bodies of her three children were then found at their home at London Road South the same day.
Today Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) published its serious case review into how Suffolk County Council’s children and young people services had worked with the Anderson family since they had been in contact before Levina’s birth.
The independent review said on-going relations with Miss Anderson and the council were “strained from the outset” and there was no success in effectively engaging the family in interventions by professionals.
This meant that overall the implementation of the child protection plans was “significantly compromised” while a further lack of progress was not challenged by managers.
However the report does say there was no history of self harm in the family and the deaths of the children and their mother “were completely unexpected” and “it was not predictable or thought in any way likely”.
The review raised 13 “learning points”, while a further 21 courses of action have been identified by the two authorities.
Sue Cook, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “The loss of Fiona, Levina, Addy and Kyden - and Fiona’s unborn child - is a tragedy that profoundly impacted on everyone that knew, loved and worked with them.
“In reviewing our own involvement with the family, there are some changes we have already made - including strengthening senior management oversight of child protection plans.
“We fully accept the lessons identified in the report and have either implemented, or are in the process of implementing, all actions that are relevant to us.”
She added: “Social work is a complex profession where every day dedicated people deal with human relationships and behaviour that is both unpredictable and constantly changing.
“In this case, child protection procedures were followed and there was never any indication that Fiona would take her own life, or her children’s. “Fiona loved her children.”
Mrs Cook went on to say that it was a “sobering reminder that all child protection practices require trusting and supportive relationships between parents and professionals to be built and that these can be made difficult when families are fearful of the involvement of others”.
Mark Bee, leader of the council, said: “While it is clear that what transpired on 15 April last year could not have been predicted, changes have been made building on the lessons of the review.
“I am confident in the way in which Suffolk LSCB has conducted its review and that the actions taken by staff in our children and young people’s department since this tragedy have strengthened child protection arrangements in Lowestoft. Public bodies are already working more closely in Lowestoft which I believe will further protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
Peter Aldous, Waveney MP, said the four deaths had a “significant impact” on Lowestoft and it was only right that an independent review should be carried out.