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Government were warned about Haringey's child protection services - claims

PUBLISHED: 16:35 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:36 07 September 2010

A WHISTLE blower warned the government there were failings in Haringey's child protection services six months before Baby P's horrific death. Nevres Kemal, a senior social worker at Haringey Council, wrote to government ministers in February 2007 warning

A WHISTLE blower warned the government there were failings in Haringey's child protection services six months before Baby P's horrific death.

Nevres Kemal, a senior social worker at Haringey Council, wrote to government ministers in February 2007 warning them that child abuse cases were still not being properly handled by Haringey's child protection agency, despite the Laming report.

Officials told her that the matter should be referred to the social care inspectorate.

She told the Department of Health there was a risk of a repeat of the murder of Victoria Climbie.

The eight-year-old came to Britain from the Ivory Coast for a better life. But she died in a Haringey flat in 2000 after being murdered by her 44-year-old great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her great aunt's 28-year-old boyfriend Carl Manning. When she died, Victoria had 128 injuries and had suffered months of horrendous abuse.

The Laming report, which was published in the wake of Victoria's death, found systemic failures of agencies passing the buck and not communicating with each other; and called for a new multi-agency approach with a child's welfare at the centre of all decisions.

But today, lawyer Lawrence Davies, said that his client Ms Kamal had warned the authorities that child sex abuse cases were still falling short of the recommendations outlined in the Laming report. He said that in one case in 2004, children involved in an alleged child sex abuse had still not been medically examined two months after the allegations first came to light - so vital evidence could have been lost.

Ms Kemal alleged that she was unfairly dismissed for misconduct in December 2004. She sued Haringey Council for race discrimination and harm suffered by a whistle blower under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. It is understood the claim was settled out of court.

Haringey Council apologised yesterday (Thursday November 13) for not doing enough to protect Baby P. Social workers and health professionals saw the 17-month old child 60 times before he died at the hands of his mother, her lover and their lodger.

During the 11-week Old Bailey trial, jurors heard how the baby was subjected to horrific abuse including a broken back which would have left him paralysed from the waist down.

Despite the child's visible injuries, including missing fingernails and bruising, social workers believed his mother's version of events: That his injuries were caused by accidents rather than abuse.

Cllr Liz Santry, Haringey cabinet member for children and young people, said: "On behalf of Haringey Council I would like to say how deeply saddened I am about the death of Baby P. This is a really tragic occurrence and the circumstances of his death are really dreadful.

"He died over 15 months ago, and for those past 15 months in Haringey there has been a huge amount of anguish, and endless discussion about what more we might have done to save this little boy.

"I have to say that we are truly sorry that we did not do more to protect him. Our duty is to protect our children. We did not do so in this instance and I would like to say how truly sorry we are.

"The Government has arranged for inspectors to come into Haringey. They are arriving this afternoon and we absolutely welcome their arrival. We will do everything we can to be open and cooperative with them and the conclusions that they reach we will implement swiftly and comprehensively.

"We want to do everything we possibly can to make our child protection procedures as strong as possible. What I hope to do is that we will wait until the end of the review, in two weeks time, and until we know the outcome I will rule nothing in and nothing out. I reiterate how very sad and distressed we are about the death of Baby P."

Sharon Shoesmith, director of the children's service, said at a press conference on Tuesday that no one would resign over the case.

But yesterday independent inspectors moved into Haringey Social Services to review the borough's protection procedures.


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