LESSONS have been learned from the ‘tragic and complex’ case of Blue Lagoon murder victim, Michael Gilbert, Luton Borough Council says.
A series of recommendations have been made to the council and the Luton Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board following an independent report on the contact that Michael had with social services, the police and other agencies.
They include his case being used in future training for social workers, and that the vulnerable adults board promotes training in assessing mental capacity and decision-making.
Social services will also be asked to demonstrate how they are helping young people leaving the care system - the point at which Michael’s life spiralled out of control, ending with him living in the home of James Watt and his family, where he was murdered.
Trevor Holden, chief executive Luton Borough Council, said: “We welcome publication of today’s Executive Summary, and together with all partner agencies that have responsibility for safeguarding adults in Luton we accept the Serious Case Review recommendations in full.
“This was a tragic and complex case. The captivity and murder of Michael Gilbert were heinous crimes and those responsible are rightly serving prison sentences. We send our deepest sympathies to the surviving family.
“While the report clearly states that professionals made the decisions expected of them in following legislative requirements at the time, the council and its partners are determined to learn the lessons from this Serious Case Review.
“We have an action plan in place for each recommendation which will help us improve services to the people of Luton and we hope will also help shape policy on a national level.
“As an adult Michael was not registered as vulnerable because, by law, he was deemed to have had sufficient mental capacity to make his own decisions.
“The support that was offered 20 years ago for Michael in Luton and other children across the country is very different to the services of today. Legislation and statutory guidance has changed significantly in that time.
“There is now much closer partnership working and much higher levels of professional intervention throughout the lives of vulnerable children, both in Luton and nationally.”
Chair of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board, Professor Michael Preston-Shoot, who a press conference on Thursday (July 7), said professional assessments of Michael’s decision-making capacity had been “insufficiently rigorous”.
There were clear indications of coercive behaviour towards Michael by James Watt and his family and associates, which should have led to questioning of whether Michael had decision-making capacity.
He added: “The learning identified through the serious case review process reminds all agencies of the importance of supporting professionals as they attempt to intervene in cases involving violence and anti-social behaviour, of sharing information about young people and adults at risk, and of critically reflecting with individuals themselves about the vulnerable positions in which they find themselves.”