The murder of a six-year-old boy by his stepmother should prompt change around social care, a former children’s minister has suggested.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of 32-year-old Emma Tustin, who was on Friday jailed for life after being convicted of murder by assaulting the defenceless child in Solihull on June 16, 2020.
Ex-children’s minister Tim Loughton said “we” all have a “duty” to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises following his death.
“Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service,” the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.
“Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.
“This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is.”
Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court that the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said ministers will leave “absolutely no stone unturned” to establish what went wrong in the “appalling” case.
Speaking during a by-election campaign visit in north Shropshire, Mr Johnson said: “It is early days, but I can tell you this, we will leave absolutely no stone unturned to find out exactly what went wrong in that appalling case.”
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he would be making a statement on the case to Parliament on Monday.
Tustin’s life sentence delivered on Friday carries a minimum term of 29 years, while Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.