Toddler Star Hobson’s murder; now Bradford Council chiefs must answer for unforgivable child protection failings – The Yorkshire Post says

THAT the angelic Star Hobson is not alive this Christmas to open her presents is down to the criminal culpability of two people in one of this region’s most harrowing child abuse cases ever – the Keighley toddler’s pitiful mother Frankie Smith and her “evil” partner Savannah Brockhill.

Undated handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of 16-month-old Star Hobson who died from "utterly catastrophic" injuries at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire in September 2020.
Undated handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of 16-month-old Star Hobson who died from "utterly catastrophic" injuries at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire in September 2020.

Yet, while the lengthy custodial sentences passed down are also indicative of the unforgivable crimes committed against a defenceless 16-month-old little girl in lockdown last year, Bradford Council’s culpability must be thoroughly examined.

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Just six weeks ago, the Labour-run council faced the wrath of the House of Commons over its mishandling of child sexual exploitation cases involving grooming gangs. Now Keighley MP Robbie Moore’s charge at Prime Minister’s Questions was even more damning, namely “political correctness appears to have been put before the welfare of children”.

Previously unissued photo dated 10/12/21 of David Fawcett, the great grandfather of Star Hobson, and grandfather of Frankie Smith, speaking to the media outside Bradford Crown Court. Savannah Brockhill has been found guilty at Bradford Crown Court of murdering 16-month-old Star Hobson and Star's mother, Frankie Smith, has been convicted of causing or allowing the toddler's death. Star died from "utterly catastrophic" injuries at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire in September 2020.

It will be for the inquiries now under way to determine if this was the case. What cannot be overlooked, however, is that at least five different family members and friends raised Star’s plight with social services and police over an eight-month period.

They all deserve a far fuller explanation than the brief words of regret and sorrow offered by the council thus far as well as reassurances that every council is reviewing their monitoring arrangements for at-risk children, and others, as the threat of another lockdown grows.

But the question for Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe and chief executive Kersten England today is this. They complain that they cannot trust Ministers over investment in their city’s future. Yet, after Star was murdered in such horrific and avoidable circumstances on their watch, how can they and their teams, as public servants, be trusted to act correctly on behalf of society’s most vulnerable? Their answers are awaited – not least by Star’s family.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe.

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