Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have released the recommendations from an internal review examining the role of agencies involved in the life of murdered teenager Liam Aitchison.
The 16-year-old had been a ‘Looked-After Child’ until February 2011. He was killed in a house in Steinish the following November. The transition between child and adult services is the focus of the report.
The Internal Review was commissioned by the Western Isles Child Protection Committee, under the auspices of the Outer Hebrides Chief Officer Group for Public Protection, to examine the circumstances in which care, welfare and protection were provided.
The report outlines ten recommendations and actions for the Western Isles Child Protection committee.
These include a clear definition of vulnerability, and better planning and supervision for 16-18 year olds who are in transition between different agencies.
Appropriate lodgings for young people is also a key to the recommendations.
The report states: “Accommodation is clearly a significant issue affecting vulnerable young people in transition.
“The Comhairle, in partnership with the Housing Homeless Service, the Hebridean Housing Partnership, Foyer and Action for Children, has extended its range of accommodation for young people in terms of an increased number of Independent Living units with outreach support, supported accommodation and residential provision.”
“In addition, the Comhairle is redesigning its Foster Care service to provide a more inclusive
and focused service to those young people aged 16 years plus in transition, and approval
has been given to appoint a dedicated Fostering and Adoption worker in Uist & Barra.”
To date, training has been carried out to help agencies move towards the nationally developed Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC ) approach, which has moved towards children’s services putting the interests of the child at the centre of every process and decision.
The recommendations report has, however, been called a ‘whitewash’ by the Review Group that requested its release.
Andrew Walker, David Harris and Iain Maciver released a statement saying: “There is no evidence of social workers and other agencies accepting responsibility and apologising to the family of Liam Aitchison for failing to look after their son. His parents, family and friends will be angry and traumatised when they read this. Our thoughts and sympathy are with them.
“The Review Group is extremely concerned that this report is not independent and is staggered that it has taken the agencies three years to come up with it. It should have been done within six months. It is now clear Liam was tragically failed over a considerable period of time by the statutory service providers yet there is not a single word here about anyone accepting responsibility or coming clean about the failures to his family. It is high time for them all to be held accountable. These recommendations show that the actual review report is a disgraceful cover-up which must now be disregarded and an independent inquiry or judicial review must be set up.”