Victoria Climbie – have lessons been learned?

Today is 10 years since Victoria Climbie died. As Leader of the Opposition in Haringey  I remember the beating of breasts by the then Labour leader of the Council about how lessons would be learned and how this must never happen again. And then it did. Eight years later – Baby Peter died another dreadful death – with over sixty visits to the home by Haringey Children’s Services and other agencies.

And again the phrase ‘lessons must be learned’ were uttered.

It is clear to me that when Victoria died – lessons were not learned. Only the social worker at the end of the food chain took the punishment – everyone else walked away free – and nothing much changed. That is why it did all happen again eight years later.

But this time – the law had changed as a result of Victoria’s death. For the first time in legislation, two positions were named as accountable for what happened in Children’s Services – the Director and the Executive Member. That was a direct result of Victoria’s death and Lord Laming (who conducted a public inquiry) recommendations.

That is why when Baby Peter died it was so important that the two people in those two positions – now accountable in law – lost their jobs. If no one, now the law had changed, lost their jobs – then again – nothing would have changed.

But this time – changes have been brought in. Scrutinised closely every month and under new Director and Senior Management – the latest Ofsted report this week – found that Haringey is finally improving. It has a long way to go – but nevertheless – let’s hope that this is a real sign of progress and that, thanks to Victoria Climbie and the changes to the law that have now had effect – we really have learned the lessons this time.

0 thoughts on “Victoria Climbie – have lessons been learned?

  1. There was an interesting article about this in the guardian this week, and particularly about how the interim deputy director went about changing things.

  2. But in Birmingham the same old habits continue – the death of Khyra Ishaq is being blamed on home education ! Not on the school who failed to act when a child didn’t attend for 3 months – which is truancy NOT home education, not on the social services who repeatedly visited her house, nor on OFSTED or its masters the DCSF. No, Ed Balls proclaims home education is to blame.

    Labour have not learned the lesson – we no longer believe their lies.

  3. The concerns of professionals working within these services also need to be listened to. For example, Dr Kim Holt, Consultant Paediatrician at Great Ormond Street raised concerns about the Haringey Child Services Clinic (which she was involved in) a year before the death of Baby P. Her concerns were vindicated by a report into the clinic subsequent to Baby P’s death. So you would imagine that she was applauded for speaking out? Yes, by colleagues, fellow professionals throughout the country and many others, but not by Great Ormond Street hospital who have had her on enforced ‘special leave’ since the whistleblowing. I don’t know the details, but I imagine the problem in this case as many before it is that management feel threatened by staff that have proven they will openly criticise them if public interest warrants it (a GMC requirement of doctors). That Dr Holt is allowed to be treated in this way is appalling. Dr Holt went to the press about her concerns, but I imagine that was because she felt that while there was no other route for her to constructively criticise the system in which she was are working and to have her concerns listened to and acted upon. Even then I’m not sure much action was taken until after the Baby P case. While it continues to be part of the culture that highly experienced professionals are not listened to and are not protected from such treatment then people including children will continue to suffer as a result.

  4. Another article in Guardian Society. This makes the link between Haringey and Birmingham as being the systemic failings. In Haringey’s case that includes the failure of whistleblowing policy.

    please also see my comments in relation to Child Y

    I am sure that things have changed in many ways, but the culture in 2007 did not allow staff to speak out, what has happened to me proves that. Has the culture changed?
    We shall only know if we speak to front line staff. Kim Holt