Belfast Telegraph

House of horrors: What we asked them and how they answered

Social services

By Claire O'Boyle

It is understood the Baker family was known to social services in the Southern Trust. In what capacity was this?

Did any social workers visit the Baker family home between March 2004 and December 2012? If so, what was the reason for this?

What did any such visits involve? Are properties inspected as a matter of course?

Was the Bakers' property at Drumellan Mews inspected? If so, what observations were made? If not, why not?

Is it a normal situation for a social worker to encounter an adult man living with what in effect are two wives, along with multiple children, and would this in itself be a matter for concern?

Were any child protection issues ever identified at the house? If so, what did these entail and what action was taken?

Answer: "The trust does not comment on individuals due to patient/client confidentiality."

Housing Executive

When did the Baker family move in to their home(s) in Drumellan Mews, Craigavon?

How many bedrooms were at each property?

Were both houses acquired at the same time, or did the Bakers acquire the second one after the first?

Can you identify the relevant dates for us, please?

If the second property was acquired later, was the first property inspected at some point to assess the need for a second?

When were walls knocked through to transform two houses into one property? Can we please have the specific dates involved?

What assessment at the property was involved before this decision was taken, and who carried out this work?

Were walls knocked through both upstairs and downstairs?

Were any concerns raised by any representatives of the Housing Executive about conditions at the home of the Baker family? If so, how were these addressed?

Are there any procedures in place to enable the Housing Executive to pass concerns on to Social Services or the PSNI?

If there are, were these procedures followed in the case of the Baker family? If so, when and how were these followed?

Answer: "Two four-bedroom properties at the Drumellan Mews area of Craigavon built in 1976 for the Housing Executive were sold in 2006, under the statutory house sales scheme. The properties were sold to Mr and Mrs Baker. Since that time the Housing Executive has no information or records relating to these properties or their subsequent owners or occupiers. Under our records retention policy the files and records of the previous tenancies have been destroyed. Therefore we do not have any information regarding the tenancies of the properties prior to the sale in 2006 or of any work carried out to them."

Education Authority

Did any department within the Education Authority (EA) have any reason for concern relating to the Baker family of Drumellan Mews, Craigavon, prior to December 2012?

If any department of the EA did have reason for concern, what did these concerns involve, and what actions were taken? Specifically, were there any child protection concerns, or attendance issues? How were these addressed?

Were there any occasions on which any school or college contacted social services in relation to any of the eight children at the Baker home prior to 2012? If so, what were the reasons for this, and how were the issues resolved?

Answer: "The EA provides a support service to schools which provides training and guidance on child protection and safeguarding issues. Confidential information in relation to an individual child, such as that requested, can be shared only with other relevant agencies when there is a need to do so."

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