The government has launched a major review into the circumstances leading up to murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with him in the months before he died.
In addition, four inspectorates, covering social care, health, police and probation have been commissioned to undertake an urgent inspection of the safeguarding agencies in Solihull to whom Arthur was known.
Arthur’s step-mother Emma Tustin has been jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years after she was found guilty of murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. His father Thomas Hughes has been convicted of his manslaughter and jailed for 21 years.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation. I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.
“I have taken immediate action and asked for a joint inspection to consider where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in Solihull, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.
“Given the enormity of this case, the range of agencies involved and the potential for its implications to be felt nationally, I have also asked Annie Hudson, chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, to work with leaders in Solihull to deliver a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case,” added Mr Zahawi.
The independent, national review led by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will identify the lessons that must be learnt from Arthur’s case for the benefit of other children elsewhere in England.
Under the inspection, all the agencies tasked with protecting children at risk of abuse and neglect in Solihull will be subject to a Joint Targeted Area Inspection to consider their effectiveness and advise on where improvements must be made.
Similar reviews have previously been commissioned following horrific child abuse cases. Lord Laming was asked to undertake a review into the circumstances surrounding the death of eight year old Victoria Climbie while Professor Eileen Munro was commissioned to carry out a review into the circumstances surrounding the death of Baby Peter Connelly.
Arthur died in June last year following a campaign of cruelty inflicted by both Tustin and Hughes. Arthur had bruising to his head and body, appeared under-weight and his gums were bleeding. He was taken to hospital but sadly despite the best efforts of medical staff he died at 1am the following morning.
Police pieced together what had happened with investigators trawling through hours of CCTV from inside the home in Cranmore Road. They studied hundreds of videos, audio files and photos found on Tustin’s and Hughes' mobile phones, and analysed thousands of messages they sent each other.
This clearly revealed the systematic cruelty inflicted on Arthur by both Tustin and Hughes.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Laura Harrison, said: “Despite the lies they told, we carefully built a case against the two of them. We were able to seize their phones and found the messages they exchanged which showed their anger towards Arthur.
“As part of our investigations we were able to access their home where we found a CCTV camera set up in their living room. And the footage from that helped us build up a picture of the grim reality of Arthur’s life inside that house.”
The government’s actions today include:
Mr Zahawi concluded: “We are determined to protect children from harm and where concerns are raised we will not hesitate to take urgent and robust action. We will not rest until we have the answers we need.”
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, said: “As Leader of Solihull Council, I am deeply shocked and appalled at the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at the hands of his father and his partner.
“They have rightly been convicted and given long custodial sentences.
“Quite understandably there has been a strong and heartfelt reaction from across our borough and nationally.
“This reaction has focused on Arthur’s father and his partner and also on how we have worked as a safeguarding partnership in Arthur’s tragically short life.
“I am very clear that we will leave no stone unturned to understand, learn and fix any issues that the independent review finds and any further actions that may come about through subsequent reviews and inspections,” he concluded.