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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 16:53 GMT
PC 'handed Victoria back to abusers'
Victoria Climbie was released to Kouao and Manning
A police officer sent an eight-year-old girl back into the care of her abusers despite suspecting she had been badly beaten, an inquiry has heard.

PC Rachel Dewar told the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie that she lifted a police protection order on the girl without interviewing her, even though she was required to do so by law.

She said she had 13 other outstanding cases at the time and was part of a child protection team "overwhelmed" with work.

Victoria, who was admitted to hospital with a burn mark on her cheek and injuries to her fingers, arms and legs, was released to her great aunt Marie Therese Kouao, who later killed her.

It was often expressed that we were one of the busiest if not the busiest child protection team in the Metropolitan police

PC Rachel Dewar
Ms Dewar, the designated officer for Victoria's case for the Brent Child Protection team, said she personally handled 121 referrals that year.

She told the inquiry police routinely ignored their responsibilities under the 1989 Children Act, to tell children they were in police protection and to find out how they felt about what was happening.

"It fell to social services to do that," she told the inquiry.


The decision to lift the police protection order was taken by Ms Dewar when social worker Michelle Hines told her that Victoria's injuries were caused by scabies.

The inquiry heard that Ms Dewar did not question why the diagnosis varied so dramatically from a previous decision that Victoria's wounds were serious and non-accidental.

"What was portrayed to me down the telephone made it 100% clear that the injuries were down to scabies," Ms Dewar told the inquiry.

She said she did not feel it was her duty to pursue a second opinion and standard inquiries that would have followed in a normal GBH investigation case.

By February 2000, eight-year-old Victoria was dead, weighing less than four stone and with 128 separate injuries to her body.

In January of this year Kouao, 44, and her boyfriend Carl Manning, 28, were jailed for life for Victoria's murder.

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