Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 14:02 UK

Baby P's death 'was preventable'

Baby Peter
Baby Peter died after months of abuse despite visits from authorities

The "horrifying" death of Baby Peter "could and should have been prevented", a report into his care has said.

A serious case review said agencies lacked "thoroughness and urgency" by not taking the 17-month-old into care.

The government-ordered review said the authorities should have stopped the situation "in its tracks at the first serious incident".

Baby Peter died in August 2007 after months of abuse despite being seen by the authorities at least 60 times.

The review was commissioned by Children's Secretary Ed Balls because of concerns over the conclusions of the first review into the death.

'Catastrophic injuries'

The latest inquiry concluded Baby Peter "deserved better" from the people charged with protecting him.

Even after the boy was put under a child protection plan, his case was regarded as routine, "with injuries expected as a matter of course".

Graham Badman said people had not taken the evidence of their own eyes

Agencies were "lacking urgency", "lacking thoroughness" and "insufficiently challenging to the parent", it said.

The review, carried out by Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board, found that agencies "did not exercise a strong enough sense of challenge" when dealing with Baby Peter's mother.

It also said their outlook was "completely inadequate" to meet the challenges of the case.

Agencies would only have been willing to move him if the injuries he suffered were found to be "non-accidental beyond all reasonable doubt", the review revealed.

"When such injuries did come they were catastrophic, and he died of them," its report said.

We accept that things went badly wrong with our child protection services in 2007
Haringey Council leader Claire Kober

Graham Badman, the chairman of Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board, said every member of staff at the agencies involved with the case was "appropriately qualified, well-motivated and wanted to do their best to safeguard him".

"But his horrifying death could and should have been prevented," he added.

"The serious case review says that if doctors, lawyers, police officers and social workers had adopted a more urgent, thorough and challenging approach, the case would have been stopped in its tracks at the first serious incident.

"It's a dreadful tragedy that he did not receive better protection."

He said not enough had been done to to establish the role and identity of the mother's boyfriend.

Ed Balls: "There should have been action to make sure the child was safe"

Social workers at the council maintain they never suspected the mother was harbouring a violent boyfriend in the house but they should have been alert to his presence.

The serious case review found: "At no point did it occur to anyone that the injuries to the children were caused by someone else apart from their mother.

"On the basis of her observed interactions with her children it seemed to be incongruous and unlikely to be her.

"Should more attention have been applied to the existence of the man? The answer is an unequivocal yes."

Haringey Council leader Claire Kober said: "We accept that things went badly wrong with our child protection services in 2007.

"This review clearly shows there were failings by all the agencies involved with Baby Peter.

"I apologise for those failings."



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