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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 00:08 GMT
Agencies vow action on Climbie report
Victoria Climbie
Victoria's death shocked the nation
Child protection groups have vowed to join together in an effort to combat the shortcomings and mistakes that led to the horrific death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie.

Victoria died in February 2000 after suffering 128 injuries on her body at the hands of her aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and boyfriend Carl Manning at a flat in Tottenham, north London.

Lord Laming has been leading a lengthy inquiry into the string of failures by the authorities to intervene, as Victoria was starved and forced to sleep in a rubbish bag in the bath while she slowly died of neglect.

Marie Therese Kouao
Victoria suffered dozens of injuries
The results are due to be delivered this week, and eight groups representing health, education, social services and the voluntary sector, have announced they want to tackle the "flaws in the system".

Kouao and Manning were sentenced to life imprisonment for Victoria's murder, but the inquiry report is likely to have massive repercussions in the field of child welfare generally.

The eight-year-old had been seen by dozens of social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers before she died; all failed to stop the abuse.

The eight groups are the Association of Directors of Social Services, the Local Government Association, the National Children's Bureau, the NHS Confederation, the NSPCC, The Children's Society, NCH (formerly the National Children's Homes) and adoption service the Coram Family.

As well as leading to a "reconnection" of disparate agencies, they hope report will call for more money, more staff, and better management.

Personal responsibility

A joint statement states protecting children is a "multi-agency multi-disciplinary" activity and they want to develop an "outcome-focused child-centred culture" amongst agencies.

Ian Wilmore, former deputy leader of Haringey Council, said individual responsibility was the key.

"The only thing I will say about that, is that it's not a choice between collective and structural changes and personal responsibility.

"You could have all the structural changes and management targets you want but if people don't take personal responsibility for their actions it just won't work.

"And the evidence in the Climbie case is that everyone passed the buck around rather than saying, 'Yes, I screwed up, or I could have done better'."

Smacking debate

The Laming Inquiry, has identified four local authorities, the NHS, the police, the NSPCC and the government's own Social Services Inspectorate who all failed in their duty concerning the care of Victoria Climbie.

Meanwhile, an alliance opposing violence against children has expressed concern that the inquiry will not tackle the law allowing "reasonable chastisement".

The Children are unbeatable! Alliance argues that escalating physical discipline of children can eventually lead to abuse.

David Hinchliffe MP said: "Modernising our law to give children the same protection from being hit as adults is now the most fundamental child protection issue."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Niall Dickson
"There were 12 times she could have been saved and wasn't"
  Alison King, Local Government Association
"Agencies haven't been sufficiently co-ordinated"

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TALKING POINT
See also:

06 Jan 03 | England
12 Nov 02 | England
27 Aug 02 | England
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