Youth deaths drop in Brighton and Hove – but child protection plans on the rise

Abdullah And Jaffar Deghayes
Abdullah And Jaffar Deghayes

Fewer children died in Brighton and Hove last year although the number with a ‘child protection plan’ rose by almost 10 per cent.

The number of child deaths went down to eight from 11 while the number of children subject to a child protection plan went up from 367 to 397.

Steffan Bonnot

Steffan Bonnot

The figures are contained in a new report which also said that 418 children were in care in Brighton and Hove at the end of March.

The figure is slightly above the recent historic low of 409, in January, and down from 454 at the end of March 2017.

The report – drawn up by the Brighton and Hove Local Safeguarding Children Board – also sets out the lessons learnt from the deaths of three teenagers.

Abdullah Deghayes and his brother Jaffar died in fighting in Syria in 2014 while Steffan Bonnot, who was in the council’s care, killed himself on New Year’s Day 2016.

They were the subject of two serious case reviews which were published in 2017-18, the safeguarding board said.

Seventeen-year-old Steffan’s body was found on railway tracks. He had spent 12 years in care, moving 31 times, and was anxious about leaving a residential therapeutic unit where he had enjoyed a relatively stable period of his life.

He had previously had a number of unsuccessful foster placements and had concerns about going back into foster care.

Fergus Smith, who carried out the serious case review after Steffan’s death, said that better liaison and communication was needed.

The safeguarding board’s annual report said: “All social work staff were reminded of the importance of providing carers with written information when making placements for children in care … and reminded to ensure that children are fully briefed about the information shared.”

It also said that, as a result of the review, contingency plans should be put in place in case foster placements break down.

The other review looked to learn lessons from the radicalisation of the Deghayes brothers, who grew up in Saltdean.

Abdullah, 18, and Jaffar, 17, were reported to be fighting for the Al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaida, against the government of President Bashar Al-Assad.

The review said that they had experienced racism while growing up and that this had played a part in the pair becoming radicalised.

The safeguarding board also responded to concerns relating to domestic abuse – the boys’ father Abubaker Deghayes has since been jailed.

The board has asked the Safe in the City Partnership board to look at how domestic abuse services in Brighton and Hove meet the needs of people who are black, Asian or from an ethnic minority.

Training was updated because the review found that there was little understanding of minority faith and ethnic groups in Brighton and Hove.

The independent chairman of the safeguarding board Chris Robson said: “Child protection and safeguarding in the multi-agency world are complex and quick solutions are not always available.

“Our priorities are designed to drive whole system change and service improvement which, if carried out correctly, should lead to improved outcomes for the children and young people of Brighton and Hove who need them most.”

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board is due to discuss the report at Hove Town Hall next Tuesday (November 13). The meeting, which is open to the public, starts at 4pm.

Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.