A safeguarding review revealed that a father was injecting heroin to his children to ‘help them fall asleep’.

The toddlers and their two older siblings were found to have suffered ‘chronic neglect’ for a long period and failings were found in the way their cases were handled by social services.

An older child who was the same father as the toddlers alleged that the father had been injecting them with heroin to induce sleep. The toddlers returned positive opiate test results later.

After a ‘potential injection bruise’ was found on one of the toddlers, all of the children were removed from the care of the mother and father, according to a Child Safeguarding Practice Review.

The review that involved several agencies including Lancashire County Council (Lancashire Police) revealed the harrowing case, but the exact location was not publicized. 

A father was found to have been injecting his two toddlers with heroin to 'help them sleep' in a shocking case of 'chronic neglect', a safeguarding review has revealed (stock image)

A safeguarding review revealed that a father was injecting heroin to his children to ‘help them fall asleep’.

The review found that social services were slow to recognize signs of’significant negligence’ and that too much emphasis was placed on parents’ addictions rather than their children’s lives. 

The child protection plan was in place for Harper and Chloe since 2018, after neglect involving a history of domestic abuse, parental mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. 

Amanda Clarke, an independent safeguarding advisor, stated that an older child who was not in the family but had a father with Harper, Chloe, and Harper, claimed in November 2019 the father was injecting heroin to get them to sleep.

Ms Clarke, who authored the report, said: ‘Safeguarding medicals were undertaken for Chloe and Harper. Both children were tested positive for opiate, but there was not evidence of an injection site at the safeguarding exams.

Three days later, a “potential injection bruise of the thigh” was discovered in one of the children who attended nursery. The parents removed all four children from their care.

The report added: ‘As a result of the reported information care proceedings commenced for all four children and they were removed from the care of Mother and Father.’

The harrowing case emerged as part of the review which involved several agencies, including Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Police (stock image)

The shocking case was revealed as part of the review that involved many agencies including Lancashire County Council (stock image).

According to the review, their mother was a drug user during her pregnancy with the younger child Chloe in 2018.  

Chloe was born with Neo-natal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is when a newborn baby stops taking an addictive substance that its mother took during pregnancy.

Chloe, her older siblings Harper and Lucas, and Ava, were not their real names. They were referred by social services who placed her under a child protective plan.

Ms Clarke stated that the child protection plan was canceled ten weeks after it was implemented, despite continued drug abuse allegations by both parents.

In September 2018, the parents were involved in a ‘violent domestic abuse incident’, with both sustaining serious injuries.

Police found weapons at the home of the parents and noted that both parents appeared to be under the influence.

Intoxicated, the father attempted suicide in the days that followed and ended up at one of the children’s schools.

Ms Clarke wrote about Ava, Ava’s oldest child, who’subsequently revealed that she knew about her stepdad’s (Father), suicide attempt and had observed Mother overdosing as the result.

“Ava stated that she couldn’t sleep because she was afraid she would wake up to find her parents dead and have the responsibility of caring for her siblings.

In 2019, continuing concerns were raised about the parents’ drug and alcohol use, mental illness, and criminal behavior. The father was sentenced to prison.

Ms Clarke wrote, ‘It was suspected by both parents that their substance use was prioritized over the care of the children, both in terms their availability and their financial resources. This led to times when the children didn’t have enough food or warmth.

Ava, who was the mother of four children, told professionals that she would rather go into care than return home. She also described the pain of watching her mother use heroin and listening to her father talk about suicide.

A child, who shared the same father as the toddlers, alleged he was injecting the toddlers with heroin to get them to sleep, and they later returned positive opiate tests (stock image)

A child who lived with the same father as the toddlers alleged that his father was injecting heroin to get them to sleep. They later came back positive for opiate testing (stock photo).

The review levelled criticisms at social services, claiming that too much emphasis was placed on supporting the parents with their addiction and mental health needs, rather than on the reality of life for their children. 

Ms Clarke pointed out that staff sicknesses had a severe impact on the children’s services department during the period following Chloe’s birth. There were two social workers assigned to the case and one manager on long sick leave.

According to the review, social workers in the case were also slow at detecting signs of’significant neglect’.

Ms Clarke wrote that “Examination” of the lives and circumstances of the four children and their families revealed the environment in which they lived in neglect.

‘The brief feedback from the children helps to show their daily lives and that for most of the time they were, like Lucas, scared and confused.

“Despite the recognition by some professionals of the unacceptable lived experience of the children, the multi-disciplinary processes that were implemented did not help to improve the children’s condition.

“The children were not always the main focus of decisions and services.

“The complexity and cumulative nature of neglect in these children was a constant challenge to professionals and organisational circumstances at the time. Some responses were not effective and delays took place.”