'Extraordinary' failures led to hate crime deaths
Thursday 14 January 2010
Coroner in Fiona Pilkington inquest calls for 'immediate review' of council's procedures
Council officials who failed to protect hate crime victim Fiona Pilkington did not even know her daughter, Francecca Hardwick, was severely disabled, it was revealed on 12 January.
Olivia Davison, the coroner who presided over the inquest into the deaths of the pair, wrote in a letter to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council that she was "extremely concerned" at "ongoing practice" in its administrative procedures.
"I found it to be extraordinary that it was not a matter covered in the basic training of officers recruited to a community safety role that understanding the make up of a victim family was essential," she wrote.
If officials had found evidence that Francecca was severely disabled, the case would have been dealt with differently, said Ms Davison, assistant deputy coroner for Rutland and North Leicestershire.
Fiona Pilkington, 38, killed herself and her daughter, 18, in a Leicestershire lay-by in 2007 after suffering years of abuse. Ms Pilkington poured petrol over the back seat of the car before setting it alight.
David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy, said Leicestershire County Council "has failed to reassure Mencap that this sort of tragedy could not reoccur".
Francecca, who was at a special school, was visited by social care professionals who were aware of the harassment and that she was severely disabled. However, because council and police staff failed to share information, "no action was taken to keep her safe," Congdon added.
Ms Davison called on the chief executive of the council to launch an "immediate review" of the Community Safety Department – in order to prevent a "reoccurrence of deaths similar to the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and
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