Worcestershire Child Death: Over 60 Concerns Ignored by Social Services and Police for Boy Subject to Torture

Droitwich, Worcestershire – Social services and police received over 60 warnings about the welfare of a nine-year-old boy who suffered “torture” before being killed by his mother and stepfather.

Alfie Steele, from Droitwich, Worcestershire, passed away in February 2021 after enduring months of cruelty, resulting in over 50 injuries. The Child Safeguarding Practice Review, published by the Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership (WSCP), revealed missed opportunities by authorities, including categorizing Alfie as “safe and well” without speaking to him.

Neighbors made 999 calls, reporting sounds of physical abuse and drowning in the months leading up to Alfie’s tragic death. Professionals were contacted over 60 times between 2018 and 2020, yet the boy’s grandparents expressed frustration, feeling that every instance was a missed opportunity to prevent his death.

Alfie’s mother, Carla Scott, was sentenced to 27 years for manslaughter, while her partner, Dirk Howell, received a life sentence with a minimum term of 32 years for murder. The trial exposed the extent of Alfie’s suffering, including being denied food and subjected to other cruel punishments, ultimately amounting to “torture.”

Concerns were also raised about Howell’s criminal history, aggressive behavior, and drug use, but reports to social services were allegedly dismissed. The report uncovered that professionals relied too much on Alfie to speak up about his abuse, failing to connect the dots and provide adequate protection for him.

The review made eight recommendations to agencies, emphasizing the need for strengthening child protection plans and supporting concerned family members and neighbors. It also highlighted missed opportunities by police and inconsistencies in following up on reported incidents involving Alfie.

Despite the heartbreaking outcome, there is ongoing investigation into the contact West Mercia Police had with Alfie, Scott, and Howell before the killing. The report commended the community for raising concerns but emphasized the need for more thorough examination of injuries and protective measures to ensure a child’s safety.

West Mercia Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones expressed support for the findings of the WSCP review, acknowledging the immeasurable loss experienced by Alfie’s family and emphasizing the need for enhanced training for frontline officers and staff.

Overall, the tragic case of Alfie Steele underscores the crucial need for improved communication and action by authorities to prevent such heartbreaking incidents in the future.