Father hopes lessons have been learned from Lowestoft deaths

Craig McLelland, the former partner of Fiona Anderson, arrives with his mother Amanda McLelland, and floral tributes at her flat in London Road, Lowestoft. Photo credit: Chris Radburn. Craig McLelland, the former partner of Fiona Anderson, arrives with his mother Amanda McLelland, and floral tributes at her flat in London Road, Lowestoft. Photo credit: Chris Radburn.

Thursday, January 23, 2014
10:57 AM

The father of three children found dead in Lowestoft says he hopes lessons learned from a serious case review will help prevent further tragedies.

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Craig McLelland was the father of Levina, aged three, two-year-old Addy, and Kyden, aged 11 months, who were found dead in their Lowestoft flat last April after their mother Fiona Anderson fell to her death from a multi-storey car park in the town.

The timeline of tragedy

Could the deaths of Lowestoft woman and her three children have been prevented?

On Wednesday the Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) published a serious case review into the deaths, which raised concerns about the staffing of Suffolk County Council’s children and young people’s services and how a child protection plan had been allowed to drift.

Mr McLelland, 23 and who still lives in Lowestoft, said the report into the deaths of April 15 last year was a “fair” account and hoped all its recommendations would be carried out.

He said: “We had a different social worker every few weeks. It was a bit of a nightmare. I am hoping [the recommendations in the review] will stay and be enforced and they will help other families.”

Peter Worobec, the chairman of the LSCB, said: “I can say from our board’s perspective it is a concern when people do have a different social worker for a variety of reasons.

“But that is being monitored and the position has significantly improved in the last few months.”

The serious case review described Miss Anderson and Mr McLelland as an “avoidant family” and there had been concerns over the neglect of their children.

They regularly missed appointments designed to help them, with Miss Anderson refusing offers of support.

But the report, added Mr McLelland, was more consistent in his approach to the care of the children and he had tried to convince Miss Anderson to have a mental health assessment.

The report also said the deaths of Miss Anderson and her children were “completely unexpected”.

Mr Worobec said: “The deaths were unexpected by everybody, by their family and friends.

“They were closer to the family than the professionals involved.

“This was a case where there were concerns over parenting ability and the children’s physical and emotional neglect. This is not a case of where the children were at risk of injury or real harm and the social workers turned a blind eye.”

Mr Worobec said the main lesson he thought had come out of the serious case review was that professionals involved in the care of children should challenge the decision-making process if they had concerns.

He added: “Challenge should be a part of management oversight and people should not be afraid to share and voice their opinions.“

The report described how the children and young people’s service had been involved with the family since 2009 and mentioned concerns over the children’s wellbeing and weight and lack of stimulation.

In the wake of the deaths Suffolk County Council has strengthened its management oversight of child protection plans and monitoring arrangements for front-line staff and is sending 1,000 staff on a wellbeing programme.

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