Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Aaron's Death Is Spur to Inquiry

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Aaron's Death Is Spur to Inquiry

Article excerpt

Byline: By Amy Hunt

A government probe into children's care services at a council has been brought forward in the wake of baby Aaron O'Neil's murder.

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes MP has ordered the inspection to be carried out three months earlier than planned, because of "issues" raised by recent serious case reviews, such as that into baby Aaron's killing.

An investigation following the three-month-old's death at the hands of his evil father exposed a string of errors by different agencies which were supposed to protect him.

Paul O'Neil had a history of violence against his six children which was only uncovered after Aaron's death.

On several occasions social services workers visiting the house to check on O'Neil and his partner Jodie Taylor failed to get in.

O'Neil, 33, beat his baby son, shattering his tiny bones, and burned his face with cigarettes and an electric fire. He is serving a 22-year jail sentence for murder, while Taylor, 21, was jailed for three-and-a-half years for neglect.

The Chronicle started our Answers for Aaron campaign in February to demand a full investigation into baby Aaron's death and to force the council to make changes.

Government inspectors will now look urgently at what Newcastle City Council are doing to improve their care of vulnerable children.

Ms Hughes, the Government's Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families, wrote to council bosses to tell them the planed joint area review (JAR) had been brought forward from January next year to November this year.

Today Westgate councillor Nick Forbes welcomed the inspection. The deputy Labour leader said: "This is an unusual step for the Minister to take and clearly shows there is concern nationally about the way children's services are being delivered in Newcastle."

In her letter to the council, Ms Hughes writes: "While performance data for children's services in Newcastle suggest a broadly positive picture, executive summaries of recent serious case reviews have highlighted issues regarding safeguarding. …

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