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Model, E. (1986). Summary and Comments on ‘A Child in Trust’: The Report of the Inquiry into the Death of Jasmine Beckford. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 9:269-281.

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(1986). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 9:269-281

The Beckford Case

Summary and Comments on ‘A Child in Trust’: The Report of the Inquiry into the Death of Jasmine Beckford

Elizabeth Model

Deliberate cruelty and the physical abuse of children is one of the most profoundly shocking phenomena of our society. Anxiety and outrage follow the uncovering of such events, and an entirely proper reaction is for society to ask, ‘What went wrong, and who is to blame?’ This Report, now published under the title A Child in Trust, is the result of the Inquiry which was instituted by the relevant authorities following the death of a four-and-a-half-year-old child from multiple injuries. I will begin by outlining the facts that culminated in Jasmine Beckford's death and later led to the investigation.

Jasmine was the first child, born when her mother was 20. A second girl, Louise, was born eighteen months later, and a third daughter followed, two and a half years younger than Louise. When Jasmine was 20 months, she was admitted to hospital with a suspected broken femur. Three days earlier, her sister, then aged 3 months, had been admitted to the same hospital with a broken arm and eye haemorrhage. Both children were made subject of a Place of Safety Order. This meant, in fact, that the local authority assumed full parental rights for both children. This Care Order was to remain operative throughout the rest of Jasmine's short life. During the month in which these procedures were going through, the children remained in hospital. They were placed on the Non-Accidental Injury Register and were then sent to foster parents. The natural parents had weekly access. At that time it was considered that the injury to Jasmine just might have been accidental. The mother claimed that the child had fallen. We shall come back to this assessment later. The father, meanwhile, was convicted of assault and actual bodily harm to Louise, was given a six-month suspended sentence and

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