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Climbie inquiry demands overhaul

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 28 January 2003

Lord Laming spent fifteen months considering the death of Victoria Climbie, yet his conclusion was simple and damning: "It would have taken nothing more than a manager reading a piece of paper or asking a question to save Victoria's life".

She was killed by her great aunt, found with 128 separate injuries on her body.

Yet again, this is about the child protection services which didn't protect. Lord Laming thinks a more direct line of accountability for the managers, and a commissioner for children in England is the answer.

Victoria Climbie lived in England for 308 days. For 211 of them she had an allocated social worker.

But as Lord Laming said in his report today child protection agencies knew little or nothing more about the eight-year-old girl when she died, than when she was first referred to Ealling social services 10 months earlier in April 1999.

Lord Laming found that:

It said: "The greatest failure rests with the managers and senior members of the authorities...some of whom have been appointed to other presumably better paid jobs."

Doctor Ruby Schwartz is one of them. She was the consultant paediatrician at Central Middlesex Hospital where Victoria's injuries were first examined.

She put them down to scratching, scabies and old insect bites. Not, in the words of the report, a diagnosis that withstands close analysis. She made assumptions and failed properly to assess the evidence.

Her notes written up by another doctor stated "no child protection concerns"

They among the 40,000 pages of this inquiry also included those running Haringay Council and its Social Services and police child protection teams, all hiding behind a cloak of corporate responsibility. Ultimately this was not about systems, but individuals.

And yet Lord Laming's main recommendations are built around constructing a non- ambiguous line of accountability and responsibility that goes all the way to the top.

They include:

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