Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Baby P council pleads for staff

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

A London council criticised over the Baby P tragedy has appealed to other local authorities to lend it social workers to tackle a staffing crisis.

Peter Lewis, Haringey Council's new children's services director, wrote to his counterparts asking for support.

He said the council needed skilled staff to address a "pinch point" in assessing suspected abuse cases.

But most social services departments at other authorities say they are struggling because of the Baby P case.

'Improvement work'

Some of the councils say they are experiencing 30% increases in child protection cases because officials and the public have been on high alert since Haringey's failures were revealed.

Baby P, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger despite being on the child protection register and receiving 60 contacts with the authorities over eight months.

The 18-month-old had suffered more than 50 injuries at the flat where he lived in Tottenham.

The trio will be sentenced at the Old Bailey later this year.

Mr Lewis joined Haringey last month to replace Sharon Shoesmith, who was sacked over failings exposed by the Baby P case.

In his letter he wrote: "If each of the 30 other boroughs could provide one good quality person for a period of four weeks, that would make a difference.

"Please give this serious and careful consideration."

Despite reservations from several councils regarding the proposal, a Haringey Council spokesman said it had received some support.

"We are in contact with a number of organisations, including councils and charities, to take forward our improvement work and have already received support from other local authorities," he said.

"We want to ensure that sufficient staffing resources are available to deliver social care services."

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