Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

'Safety net' failed tortured baby

Child welfare officers, police, medical experts and politicians have been giving their reaction to the death of Baby P and the conviction of two men for causing or allowing his death.

Seventeen-month old baby P lived in Haringey, north London, the same borough in which eight-year-old Victoria Climbie died in 2000, murdered by relatives.

Her death prompted a public inquiry and led to changes to child protection processes in the UK.

Following the verdict in the baby P case children's minister Beverley Hughes announced an independent review of child protection services in England.

SHARON SHOESMITH, CHAIR, HARINGEY LOCAL SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN BOARD

Ms Shoesmith said a review launched after the baby's death found "weaknesses" in information flow.

"This was a young life cut tragically short and our thoughts are with his father and family.

"We worked hard to support the family - social workers, health visitors, doctors and nurses all saw him and his mother regularly.

"The mother seemed to be co-operating with us: taking the child to doctors when he was ill, seeking help."

LORD LAMING, CHAIRMAN, VICTORIA CLIMBIE INQUIRY

Lord Laming, who chaired the 2003 public inquiry into systemic failings in the case of Victoria Climbie, described this latest case as "particularly worrying" and "dispiriting".

"It would be awful wherever it happened, but it seems particularly sad that it has happened in the same area where Victoria experienced this awful cruelty and a terrible death and involved the very same services.

"One of the marked differences with this child is that this child had already been identified as being in danger of being deliberately harmed.

"People fail to realise that adults that deliberately harm children go to great lengths to disguise their behaviour.

"The professionals fail to realise that the child is their client and the child's welfare is of paramount importance.

"I think very often the staff involved need to be, at best, sceptical."

DET SUPT CAROLINE BATES, METROPOLITAN POLICE

Det Supt Bates said police errors were made which caused a delay at the start of the abuse inquiry, but these had not significantly affected the outcome.

She said: "With hindsight, having the benefit of a major investigation, we know quite clearly that the mother was lying and trying to subvert agencies involved with the family.

"There is no doubt that this child's death was a tragedy and he suffered terribly at the hands of his carers during the last months of his short life."

BEVERLEY HUGHES, CHILDREN'S MINISTER

"This is a very tragic case that makes all of us question how someone could do such a terrible thing to a child and set out to deceive the very people trying to help.

"Safeguarding children is undoubtedly Government's top priority and we expect it to be the top priority for local agencies too.

"We will be considering carefully the serious case review and whether there needs to be a further investigation of child protection procedures and practices amongst local agencies in Haringey specifically."

WES CUELL, ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NSPCC

"The horrific cruelty inflicted on this defenceless infant is shocking. One cannot imagine the excruciating pain and sadness this little boy suffered before he died.

"Abusers will lie about what they have done and cover up their crimes."

Mr Cuell said spotting abuse was "fraught with difficulty" adding that child protection workers were being "overwhelmed by the scale of child abuse" and needed support from the Government and the public.

MOR DIOUM, VICTORIA CLIMBIE FOUNDATION

The director of the foundation set up to improve child protection in light of the death of Victoria Climbie, said this case was "worse".

Mr Dioum said: "There were operational and systematic failures. There are lots of questions to be answered in this case.

"I am shocked, I am saddened. It is quite heart-breaking.

"This child had injuries right under the eyes of the professionals. It must have prolonged his agony.

"I do not think they can scapegoat an individual in this case. We must look at the system as a whole."

DR JANE COLLINS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL

The hospital provided paediatric services to baby P.

Dr Collins said: "As part of this review, I commissioned independent experts to look at the decisions and actions of medical staff in this case.

"It is clear that more should have been done when the child was seen by a paediatrician two days before the child died.

"The review process is important in understanding what happened and how procedures can be strengthened for the future. Where we have needed to act, we have done so."

JUDITH REED, CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE

"This was a sickening crime against a vulnerable child perpetrated by the very people who should have protected him.

"Instead his carers subjected him to months of agony of a truly torturous nature which ended in his death.

"While nothing will bring this toddler back, the prosecution of these individuals and today's verdict have ensured the abusers have faced justice."

TIM LOUGHTON, SHADOW CHILDREN'S MINISTER

"This second high-profile death in Haringey has been allowed to happen despite the fact that the child was on the child protection register.

"It is also clear that the different agencies are still not listening to each other or working effectively in unison.

"No amount of child protection legislation is a substitute for properly trained and resourced professionals at the sharp end, who spend time with vulnerable children rather than in front of computer screens constantly collecting data and ticking boxes."

LYNNE FEATHERSTONE, MP

Local MP Ms Featherstone said Baby P had fallen through "safety net after safety net" designed to protect vulnerable children.

"The Children's Act was borne out of tragedy in Haringey after the death of Victoria Climbie.

"Yet eight years after her death the law created to stop this happening again has failed to prevent a similar tragedy in the same borough.

She called for an independent investigation by the Children's Commissioner into "what went so terribly wrong".



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