In evaluating this critical incident there must be a consideration of the following: 1) what were the specific social work practices that failed, 2) what are the systematic or endemic issues generally associated with child abuse cases, and finally, 3) a consideration of the effectiveness and practicality of the substantive policy and legal recommendations that the panel inquiry generated. The nature of the panel inquiries that occur as a result of such incidents should also be appraised more thoroughly. Jasmine Beckford was unfortunately not the first or the last child to be abused and killed under the supposedly watchful eye of the magistrates and social services. Her case was certainly not the only such case to be at the centre of a high profile inquiry and finally, other such panel inquiries before and after have no doubt made similar policy recommendations. Social work professionals, citizens, and people in general must ask questions about the efficaciousness of these panel inquiries and the overall structure, function and value of the review process as currently constituted.
At the instant that Jasmine Beckford's death became known on 5 July 1984 the series of events that precipitated this unfortunate end have been arranged to reveal a tragedy of errors. She was found dead at the residence of Morris Beckford and Beverly Lorrington, located in the London borough of Brent; and Mr. Beckford was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Years before that fateful day she and her sister, Louise, were made the subject of Care Orders due to reported injuries after being admitted to a hospital in August 1981. After being with foster parents until April 1982, Jasmine went back to live with Mr. Beckford and Ms. Lorrington on a "trial" basis (Parton 1986). Reports claim that there was significant evidence of chronic undernourishment and severe abuse during that "on-trial" time allotment. The report of her death was the subject of much discussion both locally in Brent and in Parliament (Parton 1986). An inquiry panel was convened, chaired by Louis Blom-Cooper, and the result was a wide-ranging and long report published in December of 1985, A Child in Trust. This 450-page inquiry which made some 68 substantive recommendations (Parton 1986) was not just focused on the unfortunate death of Jasmine Beckford, but attempted to synthesize lessons from other critical incidents and failures and sought a degree of comprehensiveness that had not been undertaken so vigorously by similar panels convened for these reasons. A cottage industry of commentary on this report developed and is included in the canon of social work practice analysis as regards this case.
The report, A Child in Trust, is generous with its distribution of blame; however, one particular legal manoeuvre was called out for special excoriation and criticism. Along with the Care Order that prompted the removal of Jasmine and her sister from the home of Morris Beckford in 1981 an "extraordinary rider" was attached by the Willesden Juvenile Court magistrates that expressed their "earnest hope that the Social Services Department will do its utmost to carry out a rehabilitation programme to unite these children with their parents" (Bryant 1986). Though such riders carry little legal weight, this judicial disposition to