THE deaths of four children in the Southend borough could have easily been avoided, a report has stated.

The report by Southend Council’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) found that 12 children died in the borough between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, however a third of those could have been prevented.

The report stated that there were ‘modifiable factors’ in relation to the four deaths, which, if changed, could have helped the child survive.

Liz Chidgey, independent chair of the Southend LSCB, said: “Of the 12 deaths reviewed, four were found to have one or more modifiable factors, including co-sleeping, parental smoking, alcohol or substance misuse and poor parenting or supervision.”

The reviews were undertaken by a panel, chaired by a representative from Public Health and overseen by Strategic Child Death Overview Panel (SCDOP) for the county.

Mrs Chidgey said that there was a need for parents to practice safer sleeping to stop children dying from sudden infant death syndrome.

The syndrome is connected to co-sleeping - where adults share a bed with their babies.

She said: “Due to a previous increase in numbers of sudden unexplained deaths in infancy, the SCDOP continues to increase awareness of risks associated with co-sleeping and highlight safer sleeping.”

In order to raise awareness of the importance of safe sleeping, a social media campaign was launched.

The campaign reached just under 500,000 people and it saw 135 agencies sign up to show support for it.

The report also found there were 753 cases of domestic violence against children during the 12 month period.

A further 76 cases of sexual abuse involving children were recorded in Southend borough alone.

The board’s annual report concluded that improvements will need to be made in line with changes that have been made to safeguard children from abuse, violence and exploitation.

Mrs Chidgey’s report said: “The board is aware of the ever-changing environment in which safeguarding services operate. We will review priorities on a regular basis.”