How the police failed over Baby P

Good Friday – and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme booked me early bird time – 6.45 am – to talk about the leaked information showing police failings in the Baby P case (click here to hear the piece).

What the leak – to Tim Donovan of BBC London – basically revealed was things like notes not being taken, a case report languishing in a drawer when the case wasn’t handed over and so on. Each of these ‘failures’ being small in themselves – except that this was a child known to be at risk and therefore we, the public, would expect absolute rigour in all procedures – not the sort of casualness exemplified.

Because the spotlight was so firmly on Sharon Shoesmith and Labour Haringey – rightly so, as they are the lead agency and she had the lead position and was accountable under the Children’s Act of 2004 – the other agencies (health, lawyers and police) have not come under the same scrutiny. That’s one reason why I’ve consistently pushed for a full public inquiry.

And furthermore – I want Ed Balls to admit that he was wrong in refusing to publish the full serious case review. The part each agency played in the ultimate tragedy of Baby P is important if he really means that ‘lessons must be learnt’ and ‘this must never happen again’. Unless everyone involved in protecting children can know what went wrong and why – they can’t learn the lessons that need to be learned.

Although I was looking forward to mostly having the day off – I agreed to do the Today interview because the issue is incredibly important – and my concern has always been that with the passing on of the media tsunami the underlying issues would simply not be addressed. Anyway – my sense of duty was rewarded ‘cos in the green room was Clark Peters (of The Wire and new film in which he plays Mandela). So that was interesting – but then a small woman walked in and sat next to me.

She turned, extended her hand and said “Carole King”. “Carole King the singer?” I stuttered stupidly. “Yes” she said. You have to understand that this woman’s songs were the backdrop to my life and love life in the 70s and then again when I sang all the songs from Tapestry to my girls to sing them to sleep. What a treat. And she said she would perhaps come back next year to do a tour. What a morning!