Police face probe on Bradford toddler starved to death by alcoholic mum

Hamzah Khan, four.
Hamzah Khan, four.
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A WATCHDOG is to investigate the way the region’s biggest police force handled concerns about the welfare of a four-year-old Bradford boy starved to death by his alcoholic mother.

Hamzah Khan’s decomposed body was found in 2011 after lying undiscovered for two years. A serious case review last year said he was “let down before and following his death” by systems that should have protected him.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has now announced that it is investigating the way concerns about his welfare were handled by West Yorkshire Police.

A statement from the police watchdog said: “Allegations of neglect had been made to West Yorkshire Police and other agencies prior to the discovery of Hamzah’s body.

“Following the sentencing of the boy’s mother Amanda Hutton, who was jailed for 15 years in October 2013 after being found guilty of manslaughter, the IPCC contacted the force to ask for details of complaints to police that had been reported in the media.

“On 26 November West Yorkshire Police referred details of the complaints to the IPCC and, following an assessment, an independent investigation was launched.”

It said the investigation will examine what action West Yorkshire Police took after concerns about Hamzah’s welfare were raised, as well as why the matter was not referred to the IPCC in 2011.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts, who will oversee the probe, said: “The death of Hamzah Khan was a truly shocking example of the most cruel neglect imaginable and at the heart of it lies the loss of a young life.

“Our investigation will examine what action West Yorkshire Police took and also why the contact was not referred to us in 2011.”

Alcoholic Hutton was living in “breathtakingly awful” conditions with five of her young children as well as Hamzah’s mummified remains when police entered her house in September 2011.

The remains were only discovered due to a rookie police community support officer’s tenacious pursuit of a minor anti-social behaviour complaint because she knew something was wrong.

Jodie Dunsmore, who is now a police constable, was praised for her “diligence and persistence” after persuading Hutton to open the door and let her in, leading to the discovery of the body.

Police had extensive contact with Hutton and her family over a number of years but mainly because she was a victim of repeated domestic violence.

Hutton’s trial heard how Hamzah’s father, Aftab Khan, raised concerns with officers after he was arrested for attacking Hutton but detectives told the court these were investigated and no problems were found.

A serious case review in Hamzah’s case published last year concluded that Hamzah was “invisible for almost a lifetime”.

But that review was criticised at its publication by Children’s Minister Edward Timpson who expressed his “deep concerns”, saying it has failed to fully explain “missed opportunities to protect children in the house”.

The minister wrote to professor Nick Frost, who chairs the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, saying: “I have deep concerns over the Hamzah Khan serious case review.

“In particular, I am concerned that it fails to explain sufficiently clearly the actions taken, or not taken by children’s social care when problems in the Khan family were brought to their attention on a number of occasions.”

Alcoholic Hutton was living in what the report described as “breathtakingly awful” conditions with five of her young children as well as Hamzah’s mummified remains when shocked police entered her four-bedroom house in September 2011.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court found she had allowed Hamzah to starve to death in December 2009 and left his body in a cot with a teddy. The family was known to all the main agencies, partly due to a long history of violence Hutton suffered at the hands of Khan.

But Hutton failed to co-operate with many children’s services and the SCR found that Hamzah slipped below the radar and was invisible.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Brennan, head of West Yorkshire Police Professional Standards, said: “West Yorkshire Police referred this matter to the IPCC in November last year and they have decided this will be an independent investigation which we will fully support and assist in any way we can.”