A POLICE watchdog will now examine West Mercia Police's contact with the family of Alfie Steele. 

Alfie's mother Carla Scott and partner Dirk Howell were found guilty of killing the nine-year-old boy after months of abuse at the boy's home in Vashon Drive, Droitwich. 

Following the verdict earlier this month the force ruled out a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) saying it was confident the officer's actions did not require investigation.

But the force has now announced a U-turn, making a referral.

Acting Deputy Chief Constable Richard Cooper said: “We have been in dialogue with the IOPC over our contact with the family of Alfie Steele before his sad death.

"West Mercia Police is committed to ensuring we are transparent and where necessary appropriate scrutiny is applied.

"This includes taking into consideration the view of the IOPC, and on that basis, to ensure an independent assessment, a referral has now been made to the IOPC.

“We, of course, remain committed to engaging with the independent Children's Safeguarding Practice Review which will be published in due course.”

Scott, 35 and Howell, 41, were jailed following the six-week Coventry Crown Court trial last week. 

Harrowing evidence of the cruelty Alfie was subjected to in the years before his death was heard during the trial.

Howell was jailed for life for murder with a minimum term of 32 years.

Scott was jailed for 27 years, serving at least 17.

Alfie was hit with “belts, or a slider, like a heavy-duty flip flop" while "other more sinister forms of punishment”, were also used the prosecutor had told the jury.

Punishments had included Alfie being locked out of the Copcut home - the court being played chilling footage recorded by a neighbour in 2019 of Alfie Steele screaming to be let back in.

The family were known to social services, Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership having already announced the independent review which is to report back later this year.

In his sentencing remarks His Honourable Judge Mark Wall KC called Howell a bully and a cruel man with a fiery, uncontrollable temper.

And he said Scott had chosen Howell over Alfie with "fatal results for her son".