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Haringey Council loses top-secret childcare file

PUBLISHED: 09:47 31 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:40 07 September 2010

CRITICS have blasted Haringey Council for its latest blunder after a confidential file was left on a train. A member of staff has been suspended pending an urgent review into how the 15-page Haringey Council document wa

Tan Parsons

CRITICS have blasted Haringey Council for its latest blunder after a confidential file was left on a train.

A member of staff has been suspended pending an urgent review into how the 15-page Haringey Council document was left in a railway carriage in London.

The misplaced report contained secret details about a boy taken away from his mother over fears he could be abused.

A council spokeswoman said: "This is an isolated case, but of course the council is extremely concerned that sensitive papers relating to child safety appear to have been left on public transport.

"It is the position of the council that such documents should be stored and used securely. We will urgently review our procedures and tighten them where necessary to make sure it doesn't happen again."

The incident is a fresh blow to the council which has been under intense scrutiny after the infant, later identified as Peter Connelly, was killed in horrific circumstances despite being on the council's child protection register.

Cllr Gail Engert, Haringey's Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for children, said: "This is particularly alarming given this was a confidential file. I will be asking for the full details of what went wrong and for precise information about what measures they will be introducing to stop this happening again."

Sue Hessel, a spokeswoman for vulnerable groups in Haringey, said the blunder plumbed new depths and that wholesale cultural change was needed at the council.

She said: "I couldn't believe it. I just despair. I mean you'd have thought that after everything they would be on their best behaviour.

"The eyes of the country, the world and history are looking at Haringey and if something like that sort of spotlight cannot move them to behave properly I don't know what will.

"I would love to see the council improve and I'm sure there are good people in there somewhere."

Lydia Rivlin, of Alexandra Park Road in Muswell Hill, has campaigned for reform since the gruesome details of the Baby P case started to emerge.

She said it was amazing how quickly the council responded by suspending a member of staff over a missing file when they had taken so long to react to the plight of the infant in the first place.

She said: "When a file is left on a train a council worker is suspended almost immediately but when a child's life is at stake council workers are nursed and kept on while spin doctors are paid to keep them in place.

"They should all resign en masse. They are obviously too incompetent to keep secrets that should be kept."

Baby P suffered 50 injuries despite receiving 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over the final eight months of his life. A series of reviews identified missed opportunities when officials could have saved his life if they had acted properly on the warning signs in front of them.

Inspectors identified a string of serious concerns about Haringey's child protection services, which they described as "inadequate". In a report, they condemned everything from poor record-keeping to a failure to identify children at immediate risk of harm.

Tracey Connelly, 28, was given an indeterminate sentence of at least five years for causing the Peter's death. Her boyfriend Stephen Barker was jailed for 12 years. He also received a minimum 10-year sentence for raping a four-year-old girl. His brother Jason Owens was jailed for three years.


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