Baby Alisha 'would still be alive' if on Wearside

TRAGIC baby Alisha Allen's life might have been saved if she had not moved from Wearside, social services bosses said yesterday.

Alisha Allen

TRAGIC baby Alisha Allen's life might have been saved if she had not moved from Wearside, social services bosses said yesterday.

The five-month-old was shaken to death by her violent father Gary Allen after she was removed from the at-risk register by staff at County Durham Social Services.

A case conference was held after the family moved two miles, from Avondale Avenue, Penshaw, Sunderland, to Marigold Crescent, Bournmoor, Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

But Durham County Council staff at the conference overruled the views of a care worker from Sunderland who knew the family well, and removed the baby from the at-risk register.

An independent report exposed serious failings by health and social services to help Alisha, who was on the protection register even before she was born.

The Serious Case Review – put together by charity Barnardo’s – criticised Durham Social Services, which downgraded Alisha’s status to “child in need” when the family moved from Penshaw to Bournmoor, despite protests by the Sunderland social worker.

Alisha died after her 26-year-old father caused brain damage when he shook her “like a rag doll” in January last year.

Her 31-year-old educationally sub-normal mother Claire Morton was unable to cope.

Durham Social Services was criticised in last week’s report for downgrading Alisha’s case, taking four months to allocate her case to someone and giving it to a junior member of staff.

The department also failed to put Alisha back on the at risk register despite Allen having taken her to hospital after “resuscitating” her after problems with her breathing.

Yesterday Sunderland City Council said that if Alisha had stayed on Wearside, she would have remained on the child protection register and the family would have had support, including supervision, reviews and regular assessments.

Durham County Council has already accepted it made “errors of judgment” in Alisha’s case and has made “wholesale changes to its procedures”.

Durham County Council cabinet member for children and young people’s services Coun Claire Vasey said: “The word sorry in these circumstances seems inadequate, but we are truly sorry that Alisha was not provided with the protection she needed and deserved.

“I would like the people of County Durham to be reassured that everything possible has been done, and will continue to be done, to ensure that no other child is let down in this way.”


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