Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

SOCIAL SERVICES' ROLE QUESTIONED; Allegations as Shannon's Mother Faces Jail Term

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

SOCIAL SERVICES' ROLE QUESTIONED; Allegations as Shannon's Mother Faces Jail Term

Article excerpt

THE role of social services in the life of Shannon Matthews was being closely scrutinised today following her mother's conviction for kidnapping her own daughter.

Mother-of-seven Karen Matthews, 33, was condemned by police yesterday as "pure evil" after a judge told her she faces a substantial jail sentence.

Last night allegations emerged that Matthews' children had been placed on the child protection register but later taken off despite concerns about violence in the household and poor living conditions.

A BBC documentary team, which was given exclusive access to West Yorkshire Police's investigation, said social workers commissioned a psychological report about Matthews highlighting her "inability to successfully place the children's needs above her own" in December 2003 - three years before Shannon went missing.

The Panorama programme said the report concluded: "Her ability to protect her children is compromised by her inability to successfully place the children's needs above her own. I believe that Karen will require constant monitoring and support throughout the lives of her children."

According to the documentary, Matthews' children were removed from the child protection register by the time the report was completed.

The documentary alleged that despite ongoing concerns about violence in the home and the effect this might have on the children "they were never considered at risk of significant harm" and not placed back on the child protection register.

Kirklees Social Services said yesterday it was limited in what it could say about the Matthews family for legal reasons.

In a statement, Alison O'Sullivan, Director for Children and Young People at Kirklees Council, said the issues would be scrutinised.

Dewsbury MP and Government minister Shahid Malik today called for an independent review into the contacts social services had with Shannon Matthews prior to her disappearance in February. …

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