History repeats itself in Haringay

How sad it was today to hear the news unfold about the death of seventeen month old “Baby P”. It is even more astonishing that the death occurred under Haringay Council, the very authority where Victoria Climbier died in similar circumstances of abuse. Details are beginning to emerge of the horrific injuries sustained by Baby P – amongst the litany, a spinal injury which, experts say, would have been difficult to inflict without enormous force.  The television news showed horrific pictures of blood-stained tiny tee shirt and jeans.

Lord Laming, who led the original investigation into the tragic death of little Victoria at her own family’s hands, has once again been called upon to comment by the media.

The question must be asked – after the tragedy, after so much time, effort and public money was expended on analysing what went wrong – why haven’t the simple lessons been learnt?

For anyone who is or has been involved in social services, stories like these send a shiver down the spine.


2 Responses to History repeats itself in Haringay

  1. chris wells says:

    Your litany is one that has echoed down many years. There were 70 not much different reports in the years between the death of Maria Caldwell in 1973 and the Laming Report of 2003. Almost all of them featured lack of coordination between agencies, lack of suitably qualified and experienced social workers in key posts, poor supervision and oversight by social service managers. It is interesting to note the demonising of the social workers involved. Most who read the newspaper articles remember the name of Lisa Arthurworry from the Climbie Case; few remember thename of one of the managers involved, Angella Mairs; fewer still the senior social service managers who approved the no polce policy in the office.

    Lamings key recommendations were aimed at closing the cracks between services, and ensuring common information sourcing to combat ‘losing’ cases between authorities and departments: this is what gave us the Children’s trusts and Children centres programmes.

    Yet still there are those who would retain the individual silo departmental structures, blocking the proper integration of children’s services across authorities; demanding the continuation of their own empires, justified on child safety, but more about personal power and ego.

    Kent is ahead of the curve in the development of childrens trusts, and behind the curve in unifying children’s services – there are at least 11 other authorities further down the path.

    Until then, the risk of this happening is increased. But can probably never be completely eliminated. The social workers do not attack the children. They are attacked if they take children away too early, and villified in the press when not seeing, with perfect hindsight, the ‘obvious’ outcome of their risk management decisions.

    Managing crisis families is a thankless, but often rewarding task, which few of us would dare undertake. A proper understanding of all the risks involved would help, rather than a simple, headline grabbing emotive plea. All Cabinet members could insist on proper integration – and achieve more in that quiet determination than many others before them.

    (former KCC Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Services)

  2. Steve Morton says:

    And for two points… who was in charge of the NHS trust at the centre of the Victoria Climbier tragedy?

    And the connection to Pembury Hospital is…..


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