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Council resignations and suspensions over Baby P case

PUBLISHED: 12:51 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 07 September 2010

TWO Haringey councillors have resigned, the director of children's services has been removed from her post, along with two members of her team and three social workers have been told they cannot work with children, over the Baby P case. The flurry of sack

TWO Haringey councillors have resigned, the director of children's services has been removed from her post, along with two members of her team and three social workers have been told they cannot work with children, over the Baby P case.

The flurry of sackings and resignations came as Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, said the findings of the independent report into Haringey's children's services were "devastating".

Mr Balls added: "Over the past fortnight, as part of their work, the inspectors have studied the case files on Baby P and his family, the full Serious Case Review and a significant number of other child protection case files - and their report delivers a damning verdict on the current management of safeguarding in Haringey."

Baby P was seen 60 times by health professionals, police and social workers and was on Haringey's "at risk" register. Yet despite this, he died a violent and tortuous death at the hands of his 27-year-old mother, her 32-year-old boyfriend and their 36-year-old lodger in August 2007.

The Leader of Haringey Council, George Meehan, head of children and young people's services Liz Santry, and Sharon Shoesmith, the director of children's services refused to resign over the tragic case. But yesterday it appeared they had been pushed - by the inspectors' damning verdict.

Cecilia Hitchen, deputy director of children and families, and Clive Preece, head of children in need, were also suspended. Three social workers Maria Ward, Sylivia Henry and Gillie Christou have been made "subject to review".

Among the catalogue of failings outlined in the report which looked into Baby P's death were:

* a failure to identify those children and young people at immediate risk of harm and to act on evidence;

* agencies generally working in isolation from one another and without any effective co-ordination;

* poor gathering, recording and sharing of information;

* inconsistent quality of front-line practice and insufficient evidence of supervision by senior management;

* insufficient management oversight of the Assistant Director of Children's Services by the Director of Children's Services and Chief Executive;

* incomplete reporting of the management audit report by senior officials to elected members;

* insufficient challenge by the Local Safeguarding Children Board to its members and also to front-line staff;

* an overdependence on performance data, which was not always accurate;

* and poor child protection plans.

* The inspectors also highlighted a failure to talk directly to children at risk; and where children were not seen alone, inspectors found little evidence of management following cases up to ensure that children suspected of being abused were properly heard and able to speak up without fear.

* Ofsted judged the Serious Case Review into Baby P's death was inadequate.

Mr Balls announced that John Coughlan, who has been drafted in from Hampshire, where he was head of children's services, would take over as Director of Children's Services until December 31 2008. Mr Coughlan has chosen Libby Blake as his deputy. Ms Blake has been seconded to Haringey from Kensington and Chelsea where she is Director for Family Services.

Meanwhile, Cllr Lorna Reith has taken over as leader of Haringey Council.

Me Balls also announced that Ofsted, which inspects children's services, will conduct an annual unannounced visit to every local authority in the country to review child protection services.


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