UNISON’s National Office have released the below statement:
The union sends condolences to all those affected by the case, and remains committed to supporting all those working in child social care.
UNISON has responded to the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and the conviction of both Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes for his murder.
The union sends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Arthur, everyone in the local community and all those affected by this incredibly sad case.
Every child’s life is precious, and we all need to learn from what happened in this terrible tragedy.
UNISON therefore welcomes the announcement of a national review into the circumstances of this case and hopes that lessons will be learned that will benefit children at risk in the future.
While we await the outcome of that review – including the potential impact of the pandemic and lockdown – it already seems clear that the whole system failed Arthur, rather than just one or two individuals.
UNISON remains committed to supporting social workers, family support workers and all who work in children’s social care. The work they do with thousands of vulnerable children every single day is vital and usually goes unrecognised. It is only when the system or multiple agencies fail, as in this case, that they are often cast as scapegoats.
Child protection is a highly complex area, involving multiple agencies – it does not just involve social workers. UNISON has been highlighting the issues in children’s services – lack of funding, staff shortages together with high staff turnover and unmanageable caseloads – for some time.
Indeed, while budgets have decreased over the past decade, the number of children requiring protection has actually increased.
The death of a child is a national wake-up call and UNISON’s thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy, including our members. And the union remains committed to playing our part in ensuring it doesn’t happen again.