Police missed chances to save young woman found dead hanging
all credits: The Guardian
published: 6 February 2015
News updates listed at the foot of this item
The final weeks of Kesia Leatherbarrow’s life were littered with numerous missed opportunities to save her, the Coroner investigating the death of the 17-year-old has concluded. Leatherbarrow was found hanging in her friend’s garden [on 3 December 2013] a day after being released from a Greater Manchester police station where she had been held for 48 hours for causing criminal damage.
She had been arrested on 30 November 2013 after she broke a window trying to enter a residential care home for people with disabilities. On arrest she was found to be in possession of a small quantity of cannabis.
Kesia was kept in the cells all weekend where she demonstrated extremely erratic behaviour, banging her head against the wall and making threats of suicide.
The inquest heard evidence that there was a widespread misunderstanding about safeguarding obligations and the need for all agencies that come into contact with vulnerable children to safeguard them against the risk of harm.
Following the narrative verdict, Kesia’s mother, Martina Brincat Baines, and her step-father, Matthew Baines, said: “We are glad that the coroner has recognised in her words that this case was littered with missed opportunities and failures both individual and systemic.
“There were many missed opportunities for her to be seen by a mental health professional. Whilst the coroner did find that GMP failed to highlight safeguarding concerns and involve other agencies, we are disappointed that this serious failure was not found to have contributed to her death.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, the organisation which supports relatives in coroners’ courts, said: “This is a deeply shocking story of a vulnerable child failed by all the agencies that should have been there to protect her.
Kesia did not slip through the net. Her risk factors should have been obvious to anyone who got into contact with her and yet neither an individual nor an agency made it their job to make sure that she was safe.
“What happened to Kesia within the last weeks of her life is a shocking catalogue of failures both in relation to diverting young women from the criminal justice system and in relation to her journey into custody, mental health and policing, use of private contractors and the treatment of children in detention.”
Girl’s death not ‘preventable’, review finds
9 July 2015