Serious case review calls for changes to domestic abuse procedures

By Joe Lepper

| 05 January 2018

A serious case review into the murder of a toddler by his violent stepfather has called for improvements in the way councils assess the risk of domestic abuse to children.

Agencies involved with the case of Jeremiah Regis-Ngaujah have been asked to consider how domestic abuse services can be improved. Picture: David McCullough

Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board conducted the review following the death of two-year-old Jeremiah Regis-Ngaujah, who died from multiple injuries in November 2016 caused by a number of attacks by his mother's partner Chavaze McGregor, 27.

McGregor, who was jailed for life in June for the murder of the toddler, is described in the review as being a violent man who, through his Christian faith, believed that boys should be subjected to physical chastisement.

Jeremiah's mother, who moved to London from the Caribbean as a child before moving to Wolverhampton as an adult despite having no right to remain in the UK, was jailed for three years and four months for allowing the death of her son.

Due to her living for a time in Croydon, the case involves both Croydon and Wolverhampton councils as well as both areas' safeguarding children boards.

The review wants to see agencies involved in the case look closely at how domestic abuse services can be improved as well as how those working with families can better understand how faith can impact on parenting. 

It details how an allegation of domestic abuse relating to the family in 2013 was assessed by Croydon Council's children's services department but not reviewed or updated. In addition, details were not shared with Wolverhampton children's services department after the mother had moved.

"It (the review) highlights a number of areas of good practice by professionals and community and voluntary organisations who worked with the family in London and Wolverhampton," said Linda Sanders, independent chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board.

"But it also raises important questions about how professionals assess the risk of domestic violence and the implications that having no right to remain and no recourse to public funds have on the lives of the families they work with.

"It also highlights that professionals need to get better at assessing families, including understanding what parents' faith means to them and finding out about other individuals who may be involved with them."

The review adds that Jeremiah's death could not have been predicted and no concerns about his care and welfare had been raised previously.

"He was typically found to be a happy boy who was developing normally by the professionals who came into contact with him," Sanders said.

"This all changed when his mother got back together with her ex-partner, a very violent man who believed in the use of physical chastisement to bring up boys.

"While the severe level of violence inflicted on the child could not have been predicted from the man's history, it is a sad fact that if the mother had not allowed him back into her life, he would not have been in a position to inflict the fatal injuries on her son."

Last month Ofsted criticised children's services response to domestic abuse, saying that more needed to be done to tackle perpetrators and prevent abusive behaviour.

Its 2017 annual report found that domestic abuse is the most common factor in the lives of children in need of social care support.

Latest family court statistics show that the number of orders granted to protect families affected by domestic violence has reached a record high.

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