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Safeguarding review launched into death of Star Hobson

An independent Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review has been commissioned by The Bradford Partnership to establish whether anything could have been done differently following the tragic death of Star Hobson.

Star was just 16 months old when she was taken to hospital on 22 September 2020 after suffering a cardiac arrest and sadly died the same day. Her mother Frankie Smith has been found guilty for causing or allowing the death of a child while Frankie’s partner Savannah Brockhill has been found guilty of murdering Star following a trial at Bradford Crown Court.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Star’s murder and the telling of how she died through the trial has been shocking and deeply upsetting.  The photographs of her we have all seen in the press show a little girl who deserved the best in life but was subject to the worst treatment.  Her murder should not extinguish the memory of her life.  We remember Star’s life and our thoughts are with those who did love and care for her.”

“Star was let down and we all want to know if anything could have been done differently. The Bradford Partnership, which includes all the agencies in Bradford district involved in protecting children, has already commissioned an independent Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review to answer this question.  Now the trial is complete, this review will be concluded and published next month. We want to make sure that Star’s case also informs the national inquiry that has been launched as a result of the shocking murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes,” she added.

Following a forensic post-mortem, the extent of Star’s injuries was discovered – she had suffered significant damage to her internal organs and had a fractured skull.

Both women were charged in September last year and pleaded not guilty to the offences against them.

However, Brockhill was found guilty of murder while Star’s mother was found guilty for causing or allowing the death of a child. They will be sentenced today (15 December).

Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “Social workers in our district support a great many children and young people and carry out work in circumstances that are often very challenging. It is essential therefore that lessons are learned from Star’s terrible death so that we can better protect our children.”

Star’s death follows the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes who died in June last year following a campaign of cruelty from his father Thomas Hughes and step mother Emma Tustin. Hughes was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years in prison. Tustin was convicted of murder and received a 29 year prison term.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Star Hobson's death is another deeply disturbing, tragic case. My heart goes out to her and strengthens my resolve that no child should ever have to go through the suffering she endured.

“It is why the action we are taking is so important, to strengthen how safeguarding agencies work together locally to protect children at risk of abuse or neglect – and why we will never hesitate to take robust steps to prevent tragic cases like this happening.

“There are clear systems in place to report serious incidents, which in Star’s case led to a Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review. This is due to conclude in January and will mean its learnings can feed into the national review of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ death.

“In the months since Star’s death we have also appointed a Commissioner to assess Bradford’s capability and capacity to improve. I met with him urgently yesterday to discuss the progress of his work.

“This includes whether the council should retain control of their children’s services, ahead of his full report in January. On seeing the report we will not hesitate to remove service control if that is what’s necessary to drive rapid improvements,” he added.

Prime minister Boris Johnson added: “What happened to Star Hobson is shocking and heartbreaking. We must protect children from these barbaric crimes and ensure lessons are learned.”

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