A REVIEW into the murder of Alfie Steele has praised people who raised red flags despite fear of personal attack by killer Dirk Howell.

People made more than 60 calls to authorities warning of their concerns about little Alfie - at great risk to themselves.

His death caused shockwaves around Droitwich and beyond - not least at his school.

Suzie Bourne, the headteacher at Witton Middle School in Droitwich, which Alfie attended, said: "The Witton Middle School community remain stunned and shocked following the loss of Alfie.

"He was a much-loved pupil and his loss has been profoundly felt at the school.

"Our thoughts and sympathies remain with his family and friends as we continue to support our staff and pupils at this very difficult and sad time.”

The findings of a long-awaited multi-agency independent review (Child Safeguarding Practice Review) were published on Friday, (January 26), which revealed authorities missed a catalogue of chances to intervene in the years before Alfie's death.

Alfie Steele was murdered in February 2021 at his home in Vashon Drive, Droitwich. 

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

Missed chances to keep him safe have been identified despite the good work of many to raise concerns about the safety of Alfie.

Worcester News: REMEMBERED: Alfie SteeleREMEMBERED: Alfie Steele

Between 2018 and 2020 more than 60 calls were made to police and social services, with many raising concerns about Howell's "harsh and cruel" practices.

The review said: "This review has found that friends, neighbours and people in the community took great risks to ensure that Alfie could be safe, and abuse and neglect addressed.

"The review would like to thank them for all that they did, with the risk of violence and retribution from Howell."

One example highlighted in the report said: "When Howell threatened the neighbours with violence and arson, they said they did not want to pursue a complaint because they were worried about repercussions.

Worcester News: MEMORIES: Alfie Steele, Carla Scott and Dirk HowellMEMORIES: Alfie Steele, Carla Scott and Dirk Howell (Image: West Mercia Police)

"More could have been done to support them through a discussion of bail conditions and protective action. Once again Howell was not held to account for his actions."

"It is important that friends, neighbours and people in the community are encouraged to share concerns about children being abused.

"This is part of the whole focus on ‘safeguarding being everyone’s business’. Yet these people are disadvantaged by not knowing what will happen because of their reporting of concerns.

"They are reliant on professionals to take their concerns seriously, and, unlike professionals, have no way of challenging what has or has not happened."

Concerns raised included: 


  • August 2019 - Concerns from family and neighbours about Howell’s criminal history, his aggression, shouting at Alfie and cannabis use
  • November 2019 - Concerns shared by the neighbours that Howell was seen behaving cruelly to Alfie. Howell found to be in the home by the police. Howell threatened neighbours with violence for sharing concerns.
  • February 2020 - There were concerns from neighbours about anti-social behaviour by Scott and Howell in the form of parties and loud music and Howell’s aggressiveness in response to complaints. Alfie was reported to be hungry in school.
  • March 2020 - Scott is physically abusive to Alfie and evidence of Howell being drunk and aggressive to Alfie in the community.
  • April 2020 - Concerns from neighbours about Alfie and Howell seen behaving inappropriately and aggressively to him. Headteacher of Alfie’s school raises concerns about the lack of progress of the child protection plan and increased risks to his welfare.
  • August 2020 - Neighbour shares concern with police that they can hear a child being harmed. This was responded to and denied by Scott. Howell not seen at the home. Howell threatens to burn neighbour's home down for sharing concerns.
  • September 2020 - Alfie returned to school. Concerns about Alfie being hungry and unkempt.
  • November 2020 - School was worried about Alfie; he looked unkempt, he had a nasty ear infection and seemed unsettled.
  • January 2021 - Neighbours, part of a child protection plan, express concerns. Contact with maternal grandparents, who said they were unaware of the child protection plan.