Derbyshire teen dies from alcohol overdose

Details have been posted by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board.

The death of a Derbyshire teenager as a result of alcohol overdose has shone a light on the need for councils to keep a closer eye on home-schooled children.
Some details of the incident have been published by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, which is an independent organisation, in a single agency learning review.
The young person involved was home-educated over “a number of years” and “is known to have lived a happy life but died tragically having consumed a lethal amount of alcohol”.
The report says that several professionals, including at the county council, held separate pieces of information about any “potential risks and vulnerabilities” to the teen.
However, “no one service had a full picture”.
It continues: “It is not known whether the young person themselves understood the risks associated with excessive use of alcohol.”
The cause of death had been subject to an inquest, but the county council said details could not be revealed.
Further details of the incident cannot be published to prevent the teenager being identified.
However, a summary of lessons which need to be learned has been published “to disseminate the learning for all Derbyshire County Council staff and multi-agency partners to better safeguard children in the future”.
The first lesson is: “The importance of ensuring that the needs of children who are not educated within the school system are known and they have access to eligible services and information.”
This poses an issue for local authorities because there is no legal requirement for parents or carers to notify the council if they have chosen not to register their child or children with a school.
On top of this, there will be children not known to the council who are being educated at home in Derbyshire – for instance if a family moves into the county and were already home-schooling their child or children.
There is currently a new piece of legislation moving through Parliament which would make it a requirement that parents inform their local authority if they are choosing to home-school their child.
The Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill – as it would be called if approved – would also give local authorities the power to carry out an annual home visit; it could also interview the child; see the child’s work; and interview the parent each year.
It is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday, March 15.
After this it would need to pass through further committee and report stages, before a third reading, consideration of amendments by both the House of Commons and House of Lords, before Royal Assent (which would make it law).
Other lessons include: “The need to endeavour to ensure that the voice of the child is heard, understood and acted upon.
“The need for practitioners to have clear accessible information about the range of support services available, to enable them to work with children and families to access the right support.
“The importance of ensuring that teenagers have the right information regarding the risks of alcohol use and how to respond in an emergency.
“The importance of communication and information sharing between professionals regarding potential risks, particularly when families have declined support.”
Derbyshire County Council declined to comment further on the findings and recommended learning.

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