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.