In the summer of 2017, the same year Croydon’s children’s services were rated inadequate, three vulnerable teenage boys in Croydon died in less than a month – All three had been known to social services by the age of two.

One 16-year-old looked after child was riding a moped with two others on board, and crashed, dying as a result of his injuries.

A 15-year-old, under a child protection plan, died from multiple stab wounds in a gang related incident.

And a 17-year-old died after ingesting a highly toxic drug.

Because the deaths happened so close together, Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB), decided to commission a report into the lives of the three teenagers and more than 57 other vulnerable children in Croydon to try to establish what could have been done to help ensure better outcomes.

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The report was commissioned after their deaths and was published last week.

It outlines a series of key failings by children’s services, police and other agencies in Croydon in protecting these vulnerable young people, and shows lack of early intervention had a disastrous impact on their lives.

All the youths were identified by children’s services as being of concern, including those particularly at-risk from violence and exploitation with half being known to children’s services by the age of five and three quarters known by the age of 12 years old..

The report says that short term interventions were used with “little appreciation of underlying trauma or the plethora of their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)”.

Some of the children were placed on child protection plans (CPP) with others being brought into care straight away.

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But the report says that when a CPP was in place, services followed the correct procedures to safeguard children but this “seemed to provide little added protection”.

It added: “Effective early intervention had the potential to improve short and long-term outcomes for these children, and to possibly avoid the need for further statutory intervention throughout their childhood, but this review has found that early intervention was rarely provided.”

Throughout their childhood, the same children continued to come to the notice of children’s services with a peak coming into care at  14-years-old.

The report says that this shows early interventions from Children’s Services had been unsuccessful.

Di Smith, Chair of CSCB, said: “With young people’s safety a concern London-wide, Croydon has taken the brave step of conducting this ground-breaking piece of research to help us understand and tackle the root causes of serious youth violence and exploitation.

“By working with these young people and their families, taking an in-depth look at their lives, their experiences, the support that they received, their present circumstances – and in some case, tragically, their deaths – we hope to understand what led them to such life-changing, and in some cases, life-ending paths.

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Croydon Council has pledged to tackle problems by focusing on early intervention.

Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning, said the council must learn from the review.

“The findings are a powerful reminder of the reality these children are living – from a very young age, many of them feel unsafe and isolated, and all of them are desperately in need of support and stability," she said.

"Five of these young people have tragically lost their lives.

“We must come together as a community to support the remaining 55 young people, and to ensure that we do all we can to tackle the issues that have been pivotal in these young people’s lives, from housing need to mental health, so that we keep all our young people safe.”