HUNDREDS of Wearside children needed protecting from their own families due to abuse or neglect, the Echo can reveal.
Between 2012 and 2013, Sunderland City Council made 275 youngsters subject to a Child Protection Plan.
Most of them – 227 – were placed on the register due to issues of neglect in their own homes.
While, overall, the number of plans put into force dropped from 384 in 2011/2012, the number of children made the subject of a plan due to issues of sexual abuse – 10 – last year stood at its highest since 2010.
Martin Kane, father of tragic nine-year-old Laura Kane, from Penshaw, said today the figures remain too high.
Laura disappeared on August 25, 1999, from her home in Front Street. It was to be 10 days before her body was found under the floorboards of family friend Colin Bainbridge’s home in Calvert Terrace, Murton. She had been raped and murdered.
The schoolgirl had been on the city’s child protection register at the time.
It was reported at the time that Martin went to court to try to get custody of his daughter just hours before she was murdered. The hearing at Houghton Magistrates on the day of her disappearance was delayed.
A year after her death, Sunderland’s then director of social services admitted warning signs over the family’s “circumstances” had been missed by case workers but insisted nothing could have been done to prevent Laura’s death. Mr Kane, now 54, said: “More still could be done, no matter what anyone says.
“When Laura died, they said lessons would be learned from her death.
“Then, every time something similar happens, they say the exact same thing. When are they going to start learning these lessons? That’s what I want to know.”
To this day, Bainbridge continues to deny he killed Laura. He becomes eligible to apply for parole in 2023.
Sunderland Council said it continues working hard to identify and support vulnerable children in the city at the earliest possible time. Jan van Wagtendonk, Independent Chair of Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Everyone working with children and young people and their families across the city has a responsibility to keep children safe and to work together to reduce the risk of harm.
“Child Protection Plans are one of the intervention and precautionary measures put in place to safeguard children and provide carers with targeted support and resources to meet individual needs.
“If there are particular issues such as mental ill health, substance misuse or domestic violence affecting the ability of adults to parent their children, services working with adults will become involved and will contribute to the child protection plan.
“The Sunderland Safeguarding Children and Safeguarding Adult Boards are working more closely together to develop a ‘Whole Family’ approach so professionals consider the needs of the whole family regardless of the initial focus of intervent- ion.
“The focus of any plan to keep a child safe will reflect the nature of the concerns. Therefore the numbers of child protection plans with a particular focus, such as sexual abuse, will vary over time.
“Partner agencies have specifically focussed on ensuring that children receive services at an earlier stage and a priority moving forward is to extend support to families after the child protection plan has ended to minimise the likelihood of future problems.
“This approach continues to reduce the number of children with protection plans for neglect, and we will continue to work hard to address the other factors which lead to Child Protection Plans being needed.”