Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Profile: Lord Laming

Lord Laming
Lord Laming was made a life peer in 1998
The name Lord Laming has long been associated with social services, and in particular child protection, issues in Britain.

Many would first link his name with inquiries into the implications of the notorious Victoria Climbie and Baby P cases.

His areas of interest range from child protection to foster care, home care for older people, and elements of the criminal justice system.

He had been set to head an inquiry into serial killer Harold Shipman but stepped down in July 2000, after victims' families successfully campaigned to have the hearing made public. Lord Laming said the extra work involved in a public hearing made it impossible for him to continue.

In that same year he was also involved in investigating management of the Prison Service.

But the former probation officer and social worker, from Newcastle, is perhaps best known for his role in chairing the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, in Haringey, north London.

The eight year old, from Ivory Coast, died in February 2000 at the hands of abusive guardians who tortured her for months.

After a 15-month inquiry Lord Laming reported fatal flaws within the system. He said more than a year on he still found the details of the case "personally distressing".

Lack of accountability and transparency, poor co-ordination between services, low morale and limited staff training and resources had blighted the system nationally, and not just in the inner city where Victoria died, Lord Laming said in his 2003 report.

Baby P

Back in 2001 the choice of Lord Laming for his role in the Victoria Climbie inquiry did not go without comment.

Some politicians queried his selection - although they did not call for his removal - because he had formerly been the director of a social services department that was criticised for some elements of its handling of a child abuse case in the 1990s.

Victoria Climbie
Victoria was the victim of one of Britain's worst child abuse cases

But the Department of Health said at the time that it was confident Lord Laming - who had led the Hertfordshire service for some 20 years - was the right person to head the inquiry.

It said it was aware that a complaint had been made but that it was only partly upheld by the ombudsman in 1995, four years after Lord Laming had moved to another post.

Lord Laming's Climbie report led to radical reforms. But come 2008 it was events in Haringey that hit the headlines again, and the peer was asked to bring his expertise to the centre of another storm over child protection issues.

A child known as Baby P had died following horrific abuse by his mother and two men. The 17 month old was on the child protection register and was seen by professionals 60 times.

By now the government's expert on children's services, Lord Laming was asked to review how he thought his own recommendations from 2003 had been implemented - and what more could be done to protect England's vulnerable children.


William Herbert Laming, born in 1936 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, has been involved in social work for his entire working life.

He studied for a diploma in Applied Social Studies at Durham University in 1960 and went on to qualify as a probation officer and a psychiatric social worker.

His career path included a three-year stint as the assistant Chief Probation Officer in Nottingham City and County from 1968-71.

In 1971, he was appointed Deputy Director of Social Services in Hertfordshire, to set up the newly formed Social Services Department. Four years later he was promoted to director of Social Services, a role in which he served until 1991.

He is a past President of the Association of Directors of Social Services, and has been an advisor to the Local Government Association.

From 1991 to 1998 he was the Chief Inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate and was also an advisor to the government on social care policy and practice.

In 1985, he was made a CBE and in 1996, he was awarded a knighthood. Two years later he was made a Life Peer - as Baron Laming of Tewin, in Hertfordshire - and sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.

He has been patron or president of numerous voluntary organisations including the Who Cares Trust, National Foster Care Association, National Homecare Association, Care for Children and children's charity the Coram Family.

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