A VULNERABLE teenager in council care died after taking drugs within weeks of being unexpectedly released from prison, a report has revealed.

The 16-year-old from Dorset, known as Child T, was admitted to hospital in June 2018 after taking drugs while out with friends. He died in early July that year.

He was under the care of the former Dorset County Council at the time of his death.

A serious case review into the death of Child T says the teen had a history of poor mental health, drug misuse, and had been involved in criminal activity including robbery, assault and even attempted murder.

He would also have regular episodes of going missing, often for several days at a time, and had previously taken a deliberate overdose of painkillers.

The independent author of the review, who assessed how services including education, police, social care and youth offending had been working with the teen since 2014, said the multi-agency approach was "not as effective as it could have been."

The report reveals that in May 2018, Child T received a one-year custodial sentence for robbery but was unexpectedly released in mid-June when he was returned to the care of Dorset County Council and placed outside of Dorset.

There were strong indicators that Child T may have been a victim of coercion or exploitation, and this would have "impacted on his decision making" when engaging with services, the report said. It added that the teen 'actively dis-engaged' from some services.

But despite "considerable efforts...by a small group of individuals", there was "no co-ordinated approach to the risk from a safety and welfare perspective" and some professionals were focused on keeping the child safe while others were more focused on the risk he posed to others.

Recommendations have been made to all agencies involved to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.

Sarah Elliott, independent chairman of the Dorset Safeguarding Children Board, said: "Children and young people who are in care should expect to be supported and protected from harm and we’re all greatly saddened by the untimely death of this young person.

"Many individual practitioners, services and agencies worked hard to safeguard him, but did not sufficiently co-ordinate their efforts at a time of change, uncertainty and increasing risk. We have been working with the council together with its partner agencies to develop effective arrangements to meet the complex needs of young people."

Cllr Andrew Parry, spokesman for children, education and early help at Dorset Council, said: "This is a tragic case and our thoughts are with this young person’s family. We do our very best to keep vulnerable children safe and want them to go on to lead happy lives as adults, so we’re incredibly saddened that this young person lost his life.

"Since last July, we’ve been working tirelessly with our partners to make multi-agency working in Dorset stronger and ensure the mechanisms for sharing information are more robust. We’re particularly working hard to improve support for children at risk of different forms of child exploitation, including giving professionals the tools to assess situations and make sure the right support is offered at the right time."