An British father is accused of injecting his toddlers with heroin in order to make them go to sleep, according to a Tuesday report from the Liverpool Echo.
What are the details?
Authorities said that an unnamed male injected two of his toddlers with heroin in order to "help them sleep," a report from a recent Child Safeguarding Practice Review reported.
The two toddlers, as well as their two older siblings, were determined to have suffered "chronic neglect" over a lengthy period of time, and the report alleged that social services had myriad failings in the way it handled the family's case.
According to the report, the incident involved several agencies, including Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Police.
The two toddler victims, identified by false names Chloe and Harper, were initially placed under a family protection plan in 2018 due to neglect involving a history of domestic abuse, parental mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior.
A portion of the report said, "In November 2019, an older child (not within the family, but who has the same father as the two youngest children Chloe and Harper) alleged that the father had been injecting both children with heroin to get them to sleep."
"Safeguarding medicals were undertaken for Chloe and Harper," the report continued. "Positive opiate tests were eventually returned for both children, although there was no evidence of an injection site at the safeguarding examinations. However, when one of the children attended nursery three days later, a potential injection bruise to the thigh was seen. As a result of the reported information, care proceedings commenced for all four children, and they were removed from the care of mother and father."
The report noted that the mother, who also remains unnamed at the time of this reporting, was identified as a drug user even while pregnant with Chloe, who was born in withdrawal and with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
At the time, Chloe and her siblings were referred to social services, who placed her under a child protection plan.
The report said that "despite evidence of continuing drug abuse by both parents, the plan was ended 10 weeks later."
Several months later, the situation further deteriorated when the two parents reportedly engaged in a "violent domestic abuse incident" in which both sustained serious injuries. Police were summoned to the home, where they said they discovered the purportedly intoxicated pair and weapons. In the following days, the father reportedly attempted suicide and showed up at one of the children's schools "while heavily intoxicated."
The eldest child, according to the report, "disclosed that she was aware of her stepdad's suicide attempt and had witnessed mother overdosing as a result."
"Ava said she had been unable to sleep due to fearing that she would wake up to find both parents dead and have to care for her siblings," the report continued.
Issues with the family continued well into 2019 as the parents' purported drug use continued and escalated to the point where the unnamed father was sent to prison.
"It was suspected that both parents prioritized their substance abuse over the care of their children, both in terms of their availability to provide care and emotional warmth, and in their use of financial resources, which resulted in times when the children did not have adequate food or warmth," the report said.
The children were removed from the family in 2019 only after care providers discovered the toddler's reported track marks from being injected with the opiate.
The report also noted that social services failed to help the family as much as necessary and did not place the children's safety as a high enough priority.
"Examination of what happened in the lives of the four children and their family has highlighted the environment of significant neglect in which they lived," the report added. "The brief feedback available from the children helps to show what life was like for them and that for much of the time they were, as [one of the children] said scared and confused. Despite some individual professionals recognizing the unacceptable lived experience for the children the multi disciplinary processes which occurred did not routinely help to ensure that the children's situation improved."