‘Opportunities missed’ before Haringey teen took her life after making sex abuse allegation
A review has found there were “significant issues” in the care of a 16-year-old girl who committed suicide after reporting that she was the victim of sexual abuse.
Mary Stroman, from Stroud Green, died after being hit by a train in January last year.
The independent review, commissioned by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) in Haringey, said agencies including Haringey Council and the Metropolitan Police could have responded differently at key points in her life.
After her death, a statement from Mary’s family said: “To all her friends and people who knew her, please remember Mary as a bright, clever and funny girl who was gentle and kind to everyone.
“Mary is now at peace with herself and it was an honour to have her as a daughter and sister.”
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While the report does not identify a causal link between these episodes and her death in January 2014, which it concluded could not be anticipated, it criticises social care agencies and the police.
In his statement, Sir Paul Ennals, the chair of Haringey Safeguarding Children Board said Mary - identified as Child O in the report - had mentioned many times that she had been subject to sexual abuse from outside the family.
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“At no point were any of the agencies able to substantiate this, or persuade her to share any details with them, although most professionals came to believe that something of this nature had probably occurred,” he said.
“In today’s climate of greater understanding of the nature of child sexual exploitation, all agencies have developed more effective ways of responding to allegations of sexual abuse, and it is likely that her allegations would have been responded to differently today.”
The chair said Haringey agencies did not adequately use formal child protection arrangements.
According to the report, police did not consider the possibilities of sexual exploitation sufficiently rigourously, and social care assessments were lacking in suitable risk assessment and thoroughness.
A Haringey Council spokeswoman said: “As the report makes clear, this was an exceptionally complex case and it is tragic that the many professionals – from a range of different fields – who worked with Child O and tried their best to support her were ultimately unable to prevent her very sad death.
“We accept the findings of the review and recognise that at times during this very complex case some mistakes were made, for which we apologise.
“We have fully implemented recommendations from this review, including quarterly independent reviews of care plans; strengthening the role of Independent Review Officers; making decisions in complex cases in a timely manner, and monthly case management audits to ensure compliance with robust procedural and good practice requirements.
“We also now have far greater stability across our children’s services, with permanent senior management leading a dedicated team of staff who are all committed to delivering further improvements and continued learning, supported by the council’s new senior leadership team.”
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan police added: “The MPS fully supports the findings of the Serious Case Review and takes on board the learning from this tragic case.”
“Following a management review regarding this case, recommendations have been accepted by the Metropolitan Police, amounting to personal learning for the officers concerned and procedural changes.
“There is no internal investigation.”
See this Thursday’s Broadway edition of the Ham&High for more in-depth coverage of this story.
The Samaritans can be reached by dialling 116 123.