A REVIEW into the murder of a Droitwich nine-year-old Alfie Steele raised a number of key recommendations for the authorities. 

Alfie's mother Carla Scott, 35, and Dirk Howell, 41, of Princip Street, Birmingham, were jailed for the killing of nine-year-old Alfie Steele last June.

Alfie died at his home in Vashon Drive, Droitwich - where he lived with Scott - on February 18, 2021, after suffering abuse and cruelty inflicted by the pair over an extended period of time. 

The findings of a long-awaited multi-agency independent review (Child Safeguarding Practice Review) were published on Friday, (January 26). 

The review made eight recommendations which are: 


  • A practice briefing should be created to highlight the issues raised by this review.
  • Agencies should challenge their views and hypotheses in cases when there is no evidence to substantiate those views, thereby being cognisant of confirmatory bias and the risks of not considering alternative hypotheses. In this case there was no evidence that Carla Scott was subject to coercion and control but there was information that she was a perpetrator of abuse against Alfie.
  • Safeguarding Partners should strengthen processes by which intelligence held on those involved in the lives of children and young people on child protection plans is shared and used to reduce risk. This could be through a proactive approach to the management of the perpetrator, for example via local tasking processes. This should include a local awareness of the role of professional judgement in the offender management process.
  • Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership should assure itself that multi-agency staff are being prepared for their role in core groups, that those attending have the appropriate position within their own organisation, training, and understanding of the purpose of a core group and its relationship to the child protection plan to ensure a move away from a focus on descriptions of what has happened to a focus on the child protection plan and ensuring that it delivers improvements in the child’s life which are evident and tangible. Multi-agency professionals need to feel confident to drive the content of the plan and ensure that a lack of compliance with the plan is addressed.
  • Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership (WSCO) should seek assurance that professionals are aware of when a strategy discussion and child protection medical is required in relation to injuries for children and young people. These decisions should consider the context of the concerns raised, any discrepancies in explanation and other information available, and the demeanour and presentation of the child/young person. Care should be taken about how much weighting should be given to the child's explanation or denial of concerns.
  • WSCO provides support to professionals about effective assessment processes to distinguish between the misplaced use of physical chastisement as a way of responding to behavioural concerns and the use of physical abuse intended to humiliate and harm children, to help distinguish between what is lawful and proportionate and what is harmful and abusive.
  • WSCO should provide development for practitioners across agencies, for example learning events and briefings, to promote an understanding of the relative weighting to be given to evidence of concern, professional judgement, and direct disclosure of harm, whether it be in relation to a child or victim of Domestic Abuse. All need to be considered and weighted by the multi-agency group to inform child protection planning.
  • WSCO should provide guidance to practitioners on how they can strengthen child protection plans by supporting family members and neighbours to formalise reports of concerns through other measures which offer reassurance, support and protection.