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Judge criticises police ‘failures’ in child death investigation

A High Court judge has criticised the “failures” of a police investigation into the death of a thirteen month-old girl.

In Cumbria County Council v M and F, Mr Justice Pater Jackson said that the child’s death “did not receive the professional response to which she and her family were entitled”. Police in Cumbria did not launch a “real investigation” until nine months after the girl died in December 2012.

As a result of this delay, the child’s siblings were not taken into care until the following August, when their parents were arrested. Mr Justice Jackson said that the children “should have immediately been medically examined” following their sister’s death. Instead, they were “returned home without any effective child protection measures being taken”, he said.

However, there was no evidence that any of the children had been harmed in the ten months before they were eventually taken into care. The parents denied that they had anything to do with their daughter’s death and in March of this year, Cumbria police said the couple would face no charges.

The judge ruled that it was time for “as much information as possible about the circumstances of [the child]’s death to be placed in the public domain”. He made this decision after several media organisations successfully challenged a reporting restriction on his 2014 fact finding judgement. However, he ruled that the girl’s mother and siblings must not be named.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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