Police watchdog to investigate Bronson Battersby death

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Bronson Battersby is believed to have died alone from starvation after his father succumbed to a heart attack
By Kevin Shoesmith
BBC News

The police watchdog will investigate whether there were “missed opportunities” to check on a toddler and his father before they died.

Bronson Battersby, two, was found alone in the house in Skegness with 60-year-old Kenneth Battersby on 9 January.

It is believed Bronson starved to death after his dad had a heart attack.

Derrick Campbell, from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said the “harrowing circumstances” in which the pair died were “truly shocking”.

“It is appropriate we carry out an independent investigation to consider the police response to any prior welfare concerns that were raised,” he said.

“We will be examining whether there were any missed opportunities by police to check on Mr Battersby and Bronson sooner.

“We will be in contact with Bronson’s mother and Mr Battersby’s family in due course to explain our role and how our investigation will progress.”

Policing minister Chris Philp says people want answers over the two deaths

Earlier, policing minister Chris Philp said two investigations “would get to the bottom of this really heartbreaking tragedy”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “All of us want answers to what happened quickly.”

Lincolnshire Police referred itself to the IOPC and a “rapid review” into the involvement of social services is being carried out by Lincolnshire County Council.

On Wednesday, the council said a social worker “had contact” with Mr Battersby on 27 December. A home visit was planned for 2 January, but the door was not answered.

A second attempt was made on the 4th and when a third attempt failed on the 9th, the social worker contacted Mr Battersby’s landlady to gain access to the property, where the bodies were discovered.

Emergency services found the bodies at a property in Prince Alfred Avenue on 9 January

Previously, the council’s executive director of children’s services Heather Sandy said the deaths were “devastating”.

She told the BBC that Kenneth died of a heart attack and that he and Bronson had been alone in the property.

“That meant there was nobody left to give Bronson care, and sadly as a result of that, Bronson has also passed away,” Ms Sandy said.

She also indicated the rapid review of various agencies’ involvement in the case would take about 15 days to complete and findings would be passed to a national panel to make a decision on the next steps.

A statement from the police confirmed it had been made aware of the deaths on 9 January, adding they were not being treated as suspicious and the matter had been passed to the coroner.

The force made clear its decision to refer itself to the IOPC was “part of standard procedures” due to the case having involved police.

It added: “We have initiated a review with partners to properly understand the chronology of these tragic events and until such a time as that review is completed it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Floral tributes have been left outside the property in Skegness

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Zoe Billingham, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary, said there needed to be “really clear communication from different agencies” and it was the role of the police “to join up the dots”.

“They need to have good information on systems about families that may be at risk or vulnerable and they need to have the resources available to them to dispatch from the control room immediately,” she said.

However, Ms Billingham said it was important to acknowledge police officers and social workers had “tough” jobs.

She added: “We must be careful not to immediately jump to point the finger of blame.”


27 December A social worker “has contact” with Mr Battersby and a home visit is arranged.

2 January The social worker arrives at the property but there is no response at the door. She tries to locate Bronson at other addresses and unable to find him, speaks to her manager and the police.

4 January A second attempt at a home visit is made. Again, there is no response. The social worker informs police.

9 January A third attempt is made and the social worker alerts Mr Battersby’s landlady. Entry is gained and the bodies of both father and son are found.

15 January Lincolnshire County Council notifies the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel of a serious incident that meets the criteria for rapid review.

17 January Lincolnshire County Council confirms a review is under way and Lincolnshire Police says it has referred itself to the IOPC.

Source: Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Police

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