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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Abused children 'still at risk'
Victoria Climbie
The NHS, police and social services all failed to help Victoria
The NHS, police and social services are still failing to do enough to protect children from abuse, a report says.

It follows the first large scale review of child protection arrangements across the UK by government inspectors.

They found that while changes have been made since the Victoria Climbie inquiry, improvements are still needed.

The report reveals that many of the institutional failures that led to the death of eight-year-old Victoria three years ago, still exist today.

Victoria died from abuse and neglect while living with her aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning in Tottenham, north London.
Further work is required if the lessons from Victoria's death are to be learnt
Averil Nottage,
Social Services Inspectorate

She had been seen by dozens of social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers before she died but all failed to spot and stop the abuse as she was slowly tortured to death.

The inquiry into her death called for radical reforms of child protection services when it published its report earlier this year.

UK-wide review

Three government inspectorates - covering the NHS, police and social services - have carried out a review of changes since the inquiry.

It suggests that some organisations are still failing to change the way they work.

For instance, their review shows that a small number of social services departments had a high level of unallocated child protection cases.

In addition, some NHS organisations have only limited access to the child protection register and previous case notes.

The Climbie inquiry said these problems played a role in the death of eight-year-old Victoria.

Improving child protection must be the priority for all agencies with a responsibility for children
Margaret Hodge,
Minister for Children
The report said there were huge variations in the steps being taken by organisations to protect children from abuse.

In the case of the NHS, it said some trusts were potentially putting children at risk.

Just 45% of social services departments were found to be serving children well. However, over half of these are showing signs of improvement.

Further work

Averil Nottage, acting chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI), said more needs to be done.

"Further work is required if the lessons from Victoria's death are to be learnt in ensuring appropriate action is taken for all children.

SSI will work with councils to ensure they address areas of weakness, particularly councils experiencing difficulties in this area."

Jocelyn Cornwell, acting chief executive of the Commission for Health Improvement, said: "Victoria Climbié was consistently let down by those who should have helped her and the inquiry exposed serious failings on the part of the agencies involved with her.

"We can report that since the inquiry there is good evidence to show that NHS organisations are taking action to prevent such a tragedy ever happening again.

"However, parts of the health service have more work to do before we can say that all NHS organisations are protecting children and young people, all the time."

Sir Keith Povey, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said: "Much remains to be done."

The Minister for Children Margaret Hodge said children must become a priority for the NHS, social services and the police.

"The tragic death of Victoria Climbié showed us, yet again, that we must change the way we work to better protect children.

"Today's report shows that steady progress has been made by police, social services and the NHS in response to Lord Laming's report.

"But improving child protection must be the priority for all agencies with a responsibility for children."

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