Learning from Experience Database - Serious Case Reviews

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Fiona Pilkington (Leicestershire)

Fiona Pilkington killed herself and her severely disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick in 2007, after 10 years of torment by local youths.  The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) carried out an investigation published in May 2011 which concluded that the failure by police officers to identify Fiona Pilkington, her son and daughter as a collective vulnerable family unit was at the core of Leicestershire Constabulary’s failure to implement a cohesive, structured and effective approach to the harassment/anti-social behaviour from which they were suffering. The report lists 33 recorded incidents between November 1997 and October 2007 when the family had contact with Leicestershire Police. Incidents were often dealt with in isolation and with an unstructured approach which prevented a true picture of the level of harassment suffered by family.  The report also identified that the Police failed to recognise and address the difference between general anti-social behaviour and harassment.  The Serious Case Review questioned the ability of safeguarding adult policies to protect vulnerable victims of antisocial behaviour given that policies based on the current No Secrets guidance could be leaving people who were not eligible for social care services “at risk of falling through the safeguarding net”.  An inquest jury criticised Leicestershire Police for failing to respond to Pilkington’s complaints and also the local councils responsible for tackling antisocial behaviour where the family lived.

Professional learning:

  • The importance of offering a safeguarding response even if the vulnerable person is not eligible for services.
  • The importance of distinguishing between general anti-social behaviour, harassment and hate crime.
  • The need for clear thresholds for safeguarding adult referrals which, if breached, should always result in contact with the council adult social care services.
  • Risk assessment and risk management strategies to be based on full information outlining repeating and escalating patterns of incidents rather than each treated individually.
  • The need for a multi –agency response to such cases e,g, the use of MARAC or safeguarding adults procedures as appropriate.

2009 Fiona Pilkington (Leicestershire)