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Sadly, the tragic death of Baby P is all too familiar

PUBLISHED: 14:13 17 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:36 07 September 2010

A little over eight years ago little Victoria Climbie died of horrific injuries and unimaginable neglect while under the care of Haringey Council. Victoria s body showed the signs of more than 100 injuries and her cause of death was attributed to malnutri

A little over eight years ago little Victoria Climbie died of horrific injuries and unimaginable neglect while under the care of Haringey Council. Victoria's body showed the signs of more than 100 injuries and her cause of death was attributed to malnutrition and hypothermia.

The nation was shocked and stunned by the details of the case as they emerged into the public spotlight, firstly through a murder trial and then a public inquiry.

The Laming Inquiry in 2003 found that there were at least a dozen occasions when Victoria's life could have been saved by appropriate intervention but the authorities failed her.

As Lord Laming drafted a whole raft of new measures, including recommendations designed to ensure that social workers, doctors, medical teams and the police would share all relevant information in dealing with children-at-risk cases, there was real hope that such a tragedy would never happen again. Well, it has happened, with the finger of contributory blame again being pointed at Haringey Council and its child services.

The circumstances the council finds itself in this morning are all too familiar. A trial has established who the criminally guilty are. At the same time it has raised serious and troubling questions about the behaviour of the authorities.

Again we see staff from Haringey Council's Children and Young People's Service involved from an early stage, and for a prolonged period, yet failing to spot vital warning signs. Again we see a failure to communicate in an effective manner. Again we see the council closing ranks, claiming that its procedures ''worked effectively.''

But it is almost beyond the public's comprehension how so many trained professionals could fail to see that Baby P was in mortal danger. He died with a broken back, eight fractured ribs and multiple lacerations and bruising from head to toe.

The people charged with inflicting these appalling injuries will soon hear their fate at the hands of a High Court judge. They will certainly end up in prison for many years.

Meanwhile, health and child care professionals who failed to do their jobs properly have escaped with reprimands and rebukes. But one suspects that there is at least one lesson which the council has learned from the Victoria Climbie case - that when a child dies while under a council's supervision, the matter will not easily be laid to rest.

With pressure growing on senior staff, from children's director Sharon Shoesmith downwards, it seems inevitable that Haringey will be placed at the centre of a new public inquiry. Perhaps only then will we discover the underlying reasons for the astonishing failures which appear to have contributed to the tragic death of Baby P.


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