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Council refusing to answer questions over care services
OXFORDSHIRE County Council is refusing to say if it is concerned about its services after the death of a second vulnerable teenager living in its supported housing.
Connor Tremble, 17, who had been under the authority’s care since December 2012, was found stabbed last Thursday at his Iffley Fields flat that was funded by the county council. He died less than 48 hours later.
His death came two months after that of Jayden Parkinson, also 17, who went missing from a council-funded Iffley Road hostel for homeless teenagers.
The county council has already been criticised over failings in caring for vulnerable girls living in council care who were groomed and sexually abused by the Bullfinch gang.
Both Connor and Jayden’s deaths have resulted in unconnected murder charges.
The county council has said it will hold an investigation into Connor’s death, but refused to answer questions over whether it had concerns about its services in both cases and Bullfinch.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith yesterday said the authority should think about holding a serious case review following Connor’s death.
He said: “It raises important questions about the safety and supervision of vulnerable young people in our community. Social workers get scant recognition when things go well but are in the firing line when young people come to harm.
“That is all the more reason why in fairness to all, and especially to Connor, his family and friends, a thorough inquiry as well as the court case needs to get to the bottom of what went wrong and whether his death could have been prevented.”
Connor was under council care but living in independent accommodation preparing to leave care. The Fairacres Road flat was provided by Key2 for the council.
Jayden, above, was not in care but living at the One Foot Forward hostel – which is funded by the council – when she disappeared in December.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth has not returned any of the Oxford Mail’s calls.
But Labour opposition leader Labour Liz Brighouse said she believed care for vulnerable children across the country was in crisis. She said: “I have deep concerns. I think it is nationwide problem.”
Council spokesman Owen Morton declined to say whether or not the authority had concerns about care for vulnerable teens. But he said: “Connor was looked after by the county council as a homeless young person.
“He had been placed in supported housing in Oxford and was in close contact with social services up until his death.”
- William Blencowe, 20, of Oxford Road, Banbury, yesterday appeared at Reading Crown Court via video link from Bullingdon Prison charged with Connor’s murder. He was remanded in custody to appear at Oxford Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on May 30. His trial was provisionally set for August 11.
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