NEW figures show investigations into child deaths and serious injuries are running at a high level in Kirklees.
There have been seven Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) into child abuse in Kirklees since April 2006 – the seventh highest figure in the country.
But yesterday Clr Ken Smith denied yesterday that the council’s children’s services department was to blame.
The Kirklees Council Cabinet member for children said: “I’ve been involved in a review of our systems and I’ve been impressed. It looks quite good to me.”
Since April 2006 there have been seven SCRs in Kirklees – including into murdered baby Sanam Navsarka and kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews.
In the same period there have been 12 reviews in Birmingham and Kent, nine in Lancashire and eight in Leeds, Essex and Hertfordshire.
Elsewhere in West Yorkshire, Calderdale has had three SCRs and Bradford and Wakefield one each.
Clr Smith said: “I’m surprised to see we’re higher compared to others. I think you have to take population into account for these figures.”
The Ashbrow Labour man added that this year’s Laming Report into child protection said that “authorities who undertook higher numbers of SCRs should not be criticised”.
Serious Case Reviews take place when a child is killed or seriously injured by a relative. The reviews involve council social workers, health staff and police and aim to learn lessons for the future.
The only ongoing SCR in Kirklees is into Shannon Matthews, the Dewsbury schoolgirl kidnapped by her mother and an accomplice last year.
Clr Smith said: “The Shannon case doesn’t really fit the criteria of an SCR but it was carried out because of public concern. We hope to receive the report in December – I’ve no idea why it’s taken so long.”
In August the SCR into Sanam Navsarka reported.
The two-year-old tot was found dead with 107 injuries at her Deighton home last year. In February mother Zahbeena Navsarka and her partner Subhan Anwar were given long jail terms for killing Sanam.
The investigation found that the little girl could have been saved if social workers’ concerns about her welfare had been acted on.
Kirklees is also under pressure from the growing number of vulnerable young people needing care.
The number of looked-after children has risen from 413 in 2006/07 to 497 this year. An extra £4.5m has been set aside to help cope with the growing demand.