Of all the news stories that have appeared this week, none can be more poignant than that of 38 year old Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francesca of Barwell in Leicestershire. Over ten years the two were terrorised by a sixteen strong gang of local youths, who by a series of mind-numbingly moronic actions simply eroded Ms Pilkington’s will to live, until in 2007 she parked with her daughter in a lay by off the A47, poured a ten litre can of petrol over a pile of clothes on the back seat and struck a match, killing herself and her daughter in the resulting fireball.
The story would be tragic enough – but the current inquest is now discovering another litany of local authority errors, omissions and mixups, any of which might have prevented this tragedy.
- The antisocial behaviour officer at Hinckley and Bosworth Council said he “had no concerns” with the situation.
- A detailed diary which Ms Pilkington kept on her treatment was only found by the council after the deaths.
- The council were unaware of any “bullying” despite repeated enquiries by Leicestershire Police
- Despite a decade of misery, the council failed to keep records for more than two years.
- A 300 metre exclusion zone imposed around the family home was not enforced by the council.
And to cap it all, despite the police, the council, social services and Francesca’s special school all being aware of the problems, the torment continued; the yobs triumphed; and a loving mother was forced to a desperate final option.
The sobering question is how many more Fiona Pilkingtons – old or young, disabled or not – are enduring just the same torment from gangs just like this tonight and every other night up and down the country?
Why can’t our this country’s public services work together to protect the weak and vulnerable?