A safeguarding review found evidence that killer James Waddell was a victim of child exploitation, and “highlighted the presence of adultification” when vulnerability is not extended to young black people.
In August 2021, James Waddell stabbed 16-year-old Dylan Holliday to death in Northamptonshire with a Rambo-style knife just hours of leaving care. He was convicted of manslaughter. The report evidenced that Waddell possessed the knife while he was in the care of local authorities and that authorities did not utilise appropriate safeguarding practices to identify adolescent risk. Waddell claimed that he had been carrying a knife since he was thirteen and used the weapon for self-defense.
Under the care of social workers and supervision, Waddell showed signs of violence and had an “extensive history of trauma”, extending to enduring an attack by his father with a machete at a young age. The Child Safeguarding Practice Review (CSPR) issued that an explicit agreement to place Waddell in foster care was not defined and his “risk of harm” was not adequately addressed. The review also found that the victim, Dylan Holliday, was involved in drugs at a young age, citing that he had been smoking cannabis since he was 11. Holliday was involved with child services during a family domestic abuse and alcohol misuse case.
Around the time of Waddell’s trial, the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Review (NSCP) stated that they would begin a report on his case. The CSPR found that missed opportunities to understand the risk of harm to Dylan were due to “limited communication between agencies”.
Northamptonshire Police Deputy Chief Constable, Ivan Balhatchet, said the report “notes the importance of information sharing across all agencies in cases where gang activity is ongoing.” A new training procedure for multi-agency information sharing and professional understanding of child exploitation is now in development.