MP demands suspension of special guardianship orders

By Neil Puffett

| 06 May 2016

An MP has called for the use of special guardianship orders (SGOs) to be suspended in the wake of the conviction of a woman for the murder of toddler Keegan Downer.

Following her death, Keegan Downer was found to have 153 scars and bruises. Picture: West Midlands Police

The 18-month-old girl was removed from a foster placement and responsibility for her care was handed to 34-year-old Kandyce Downer through a special guardianship order (SGO).

Her foster carer had raised concerns with social services that Downer, who was a member of Keegan's extended family, may have had financial motivation, however an SGO was granted in January 2015.

Now, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood has called on the commissioner of Birmingham City Council’s children’s services, Andrew Christie, to suspend the use of SGOs until a serious case review has been completed.

“I am calling on the commissioner to put a stop to these orders in light of the devastating consequences for Keegan Downer,” he told the Birmingham Mail.

“There should not be any more issued in Birmingham, at least not until the serious case review has been completed and we know the full details about what has happened.

“We also need to conduct an investigation into all of the other orders that have already been issued to ensure that there are no other children in danger."

Following her death in September 2015, Keegan Downer was found to have 153 scars and bruises, and had suffered brain and spinal injuries. Police described her treatment as "barbaric and evil". Kandyce Downer has been told she will serve at least 18 years in jail.

Birmingham Council has declined to comment on the potential for the use of SGOs being suspended, with a spokesman stating that it is something that will be looked into as part of a serious case review being conducted.

Penny Thompson, chair of Birmingham’s safeguarding children board, said: “Now that the criminal trial has ended the serious case review can be completed, reflecting on information disclosed during the trial. The serious case review report findings will be published in the summer.”

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