Page last updated at 07:44 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Charity chief warning over Baby P

Baby P
Baby P died from abuse despite 60 visits from authorities

Baby P could have become "feral, a parasite, a yob" if he had survived into his teens, the chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's has said.

Martin Narey said Baby P might have been a criminal by the age of 13 due to his emotional and physical deprivation.

The 17-month-old boy died in Haringey, north London, in August last year after suffering months of abuse.

Crime could be cut by recognising that offending is linked to child poverty and combating poverty, Mr Narey said.

In a London lecture, Mr Narey said he was "shocked" by the "tragic events" surrounding the toddler's death.

He said: "It saddens me that the probability is that, had Baby P survived, given his own deprivation, he might have been unruly by the time he had reached the age of 13 or 14.

"At which point he'd have become feral, a parasite, a yob, helping to infest our streets."

Mr Narey added: "The response to his criminal behaviour would have been to lock him up - but we believe these children deserve better."

'Identify disadvantage'

Mr Narey, a former director general of the Prison Service, said progress could be made in preventing youth offending by understanding the reasons behind it.

"Until we recognise that offending might in part be linked to levels of child poverty here in the UK, levels which should shame a country of our affluence, we have to be resigned to that offending continuing," Mr Narey said.

"We must resolve to identify and combat the disadvantage."

A Barnardo's report found that children most at risk of engaging in criminal and anti-social behaviour come from the poorest families, have the poorest educational experience and suffer from poor health.

Baby P died despite 60 visits from authorities over eight months.

Baby P's mother, her boyfriend and their lodger, Jason Owen, 36, were convicted of causing or allowing the toddler's death.

They will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 15 December.

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