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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 18:48 GMT
Child protection plans 'failing'
Victoria Climbie
Lord Laming made a damning report into Victoria Climbie's death
The man who wrote a damning report into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie says he "despairs" over further deaths of vulnerable children.

Lord Laming's report five years ago said Victoria's death could have been prevented by "basic good practice."

He told BBC Radio 4's File On 4 children are still paying the price for organisations failing to do their duty.

Although he absolved government from any blame, saying he backed its policies at national level.

Lord Laming was commenting after a File On 4 investigation showed him details of three cases - in London, Newcastle and Swansea - where vulnerable children had been killed and in which there has been criticism of the role played by social services and other agencies.

"Of course I despair and I hope that captures what I feel," he said.

"I despair about the organisations that have not put in place the recommendations which I judge to be little more than basic good practice.

Lord Laming said child protection agencies still ignore the child's interests, tending instead to focus on adults - a point he stressed in his original inquiry.

We need to be absolutely intolerant about bad practice and be altogether more ambitious in our hopes for the future of children in our society
Lord Laming

"The legislation makes it plain that it is the wellbeing of the child which should be the focus of all of the work by all of the agencies that is clear in law.

"Too often agencies' attention is diverted onto the adult agenda that happened in Victoria Climbie and too often all of the professions have a tendency to be too easily reassured, too optimistic and they don't think how vulnerable a child can be in those particular circumstances.

"And if they kept their attention on what it is like in the day of a child, what it feels like to be a child in those circumstances that it would influence the way in which they react."

'Good practice'

Lord Laming also told the BBC: "I believe this is about good practice, day by day good practice, about what happens at the front door of every agency and about a vision for children and I am disappointed that there are organisations that took several years to address and put in place recommendations that I judged could be put in place within a matter of months."

And he added: "We need to be absolutely intolerant about bad practice and be altogether more ambitious in our hopes for the future of children in our society.

"It is not about bureaucratic issues, it's not about organisational niceties, it's not about turf or air wars and all the rest of it, it's about putting the child at the centre. If the agencies don't then I fear we'll go on having cases of this kind."

The government told File On 4, a process is underway to summarise the central messages from Serious Case Reviews - which analyse cases of child death or injury - and publish them once every two years so that all child protection agencies learn the lessons from what goes wrong.

Hear the full story on Radio 4: File on 4 Tue 22 Jan 2008 GMT, repeated Sun 27 Jan 1700 GMT or online at File on 4 website

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SEE ALSO
Climbie tragedy 'not the last'
27 Mar 03 |  England

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