Council Failures

After the Victoria Climbie case and the child protection measures put in place to ensure nothing similar ever occurred again, the mother who admitted her guilt and two men have been found guilty of causing the death of Baby P, a 17 month old child, despite him being the ‘subject of a multi-agency child protection plan.’

I recall numerous and extensive changes being made to Social Services in Kirklees after 2003 with the introduction of Every Child Matters to ensure all the required safeguards were in place so that such a tragedy would not be repeated. These measures were brought in by legislation and all Local Authorities had to comply. The expectation thereafter was that no child would be failed again in the same way as Victoria Climbie. Yet we learn of another catastrophic failure by the authorities which has led to a child being subject to extreme abuse and pain before eventually dying. This case is far worse than the Victoria Climbie case as Baby P was on the Council’s register of children at risk which should have ensured that his death was prevented.

A review of child protection has been ordered but Haringey Council on whose watch this tragedy happened has a lot to answer, not least why appropriate action was not taken when this child was visited on numerous occasions by officers from the Council. Despite the failure to protect this child, no one has been suspended or dismissed with two social workers and a lawyer only being given formal written warnings. Sharon Shoesmith, the chairwoman of Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board has quite incredibly said that ‘I am satisfied that the action that should have been taken was taken.’

When such a tragedy occurs, we begin to wonder how many more children are being let down by the authorities and are in danger – confidence in the whole system is affected and those people who are doing their jobs in a professional manner are also tainted. When a child dies in these circumstances, it isn’t sufficient to simply say that the system failed or that the right procedures were followed. People must be held to account especially where mistakes made such as in this case are proven.

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