Tia Sharp: Investigation opened into whether 12-year-old was let down by authorities
THE family life of murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp will be investigated – to establish whether there were failures in the care of the 12-year-old.
On Tuesday, Merton Council – the local authority of Tia's home borough – launched a Serious Case Review (SCR) into concerns about how she was cared for before she died. Government guidance states SCRs are only to be launched when "abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor in the death".
The Advertiser understands the review will focus on aspects of Tia's care, including allegations she:
Had a deteriorating attendance record and began playing truant from school
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Began struggling with schoolwork, with her attainment levels dropping
Had no bedroom of her own at the family flat in Lancaster Avenue, Mitcham; using the front room settee as her bed and keeping her clothes in carrier bags
The Advertiser understands the review will focus on whether workers at Merton Council with child protection training should have identified warning signs and taken action.
A source has told The Advertiser: "There have been significant failures."
We have also learned that Tia had no social worker assigned to her, meaning she was not on the "at risk register" – a measure used to monitor and protect children who face potential abuse or where family life has a negative impact.
The SCR to be conducted by Merton Council's Local Safeguarding Children Board will now examine whether police, teachers, social services and doctors could have done more to prevent the circumstances surrounding her death.
Merton Council chief executive Ged Curran said the review was "standard procedure" in a case like Tia's, adding: "Our thoughts and condolences go out to all those who knew Tia.
"The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) will now commission a serious case review. The review will be assisted by the police, health services and local authorities."
Government policy on the matter, published in its Working Together To Safeguard Children guidelines, states: "When a child dies (including death by suspected suicide) and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor in the death, the LSCB should always conduct a SCR into the involvement of organisations and professionals in the lives of the child and family.
"The prime purpose of a Serious Case Review is for agencies and individuals to learn lessons to improve the way in which they work, both individually and collectively, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children."
The Advertiser contacted Stephen Alambritis, Merton Council leader, who refused to comment on whether the issues highlighted to us had also been raised with him.
A Merton Council spokesman said: "It is inappropriate for us to comment further."
Tia's body was found stuffed in a black bag, wrapped in a black sheet, in the loft of her grandmother's home in The Lindens, New Addington, on Friday.
An inquest was opened and adjourned yesterday (Thursday) morning at which the body was officially announced to be hers.
Stuart Hazell, 37, the partner of Tia's grandmother – Christine Sharp – was charged with the 12-year-old's murder on Sunday.
The unemployed painter and decorator appeared via video link at Camberwell Magistrates' Court on Monday and then at The Old Bailey on Wednesday, where he was remanded in custody until November 19. He did not enter a plea. Grandmother Christine Sharp, 46, arrested on suspicion of murder, and neighbour Paul Meehan, 39, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, were bailed until October.