Boys’ deaths couldn’t have been avoided

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LESSONS can be learned from the deaths of the two young brothers in a house fire in Eastbourne, according to a new report.

It found that a wide range of support was correctly provided by a number of agencies in relation to Lewis and Taylor Jenkins but that certain areas of inter-agency working could have been better.

However, the report says while certain areas of procedure could have, and should have, been better, the deaths could not have been prevented.

The report is a Serious Case Review published by the East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).

Seven-year-old Lewis and his brother Taylor, five, died from the effects of smoke at the house in Milfoil Drive, in 2008. They are believed to have started the fire in a makeshift den.

The report said the boys lived in an “emotionally abusive and neglectful context” because of persistent domestic abuse. It says their parents were involved in substance misuse and did not set consistent boundaries.

Professionals working with the family also knew nothing of the boys’ fascination with fire.

The document said “opportunities were missed to develop a fuller picture of what was going on and what standards of parenting were available”.

“Fire safety within the family home was not considered by any professional working with this family to be a presenting and imminent problem because the fact of the fascination with fire from both children was not known to workers,” said the report.

“Their parents, who appear to have known about this, did not act to ensure that adequate fire safety measures were in place.”

Verdicts of misadventure were returned at an inquest into their deaths at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court in October.

Cathie Pattison, chair of the LSCB said, “The report found a wide range of support was correctly provided by a number of agencies but that certain areas of inter-agency working could have been better.

“It is important to note that the key conclusion of the report is that while certain areas of procedure could have, and should have, been better, it does not follow that the deaths could have been prevented.

“The recent coroner’s inquiry concluded that death was caused by misadventure and the coroner commented that in his opinion agencies could not have done more to prevent this from happening.

“However, the case has highlighted a number of areas where some processes should have been followed more robustly, where some assessments should have been more full, and occasions where information sharing between agencies should have been better.

“The LSCB is committed to continuously improving safeguarding and to this end has produced a set of recommendations for improvement and is satisfied that the agencies involved have taken appropriate action to address each of those.”