Written Warnings But No Sackings Over Boy’s Death

TWO Haringey social workers and a lawyer have been given written warnings over their role in the death of Baby P but no council employee will be sacked, it emerged today.

The decision follows a Serious Case Review by Haringey Council, which found that just over a week before the toddler died legal advice was given that the “threshold for initiating care proceedings had not been met”.

That meant that a police appeal for the child not to be handed back to the mother was over-ruled by Haringey social services and other agencies involved in the boy’s care.

Despite the error and other failings by Haringey staff, today’s review also found that there had been “numerous examples of good practice” by those involved in protecting the child.

Instead, it pinned much of the blame on Dr Sabah Alzayyat, a paediatrician at Tottenham’s St Ann’s hospital, who failed to spot injuries on the boy two days before he died. Her contract has not been renewed.

Critics reacted angrily to the council’s failure to act more robustly.

Mor Dioum, the director of the Victoria Climbié Foundation, claimed that its verdict was “biased and inaccurate” and insisted that all the agencies involved in Baby P’s care bore responsibility for his death.

Announcing today’s decision, Sharon Shoesmith, the chairwoman of the Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board, confirmed that two social workers and a lawyer had received warnings, but said that there would be no resignations or sackings over the affair. She defended social services and insisted the council had learned lessons from the Victoria Climbié tragedy in 2000, for which it was heavily criticised.

Offering her condolences to the victim’s family, she added: “This was a young life cut tragically short and our thoughts are with his father and family. We worked hard to support the family — social workers, health visitors, doctors and nurses all saw him and his mother regularly.

“We made arrangements to protect him, monitoring his progress, and organised for the mother to go on a parenting course. We arranged for a family friend to help with his care, a childminder to look after him four days a week and report any suspicious injuries. The mother seemed to be co-operating with us: taking the child to doctors when he was ill, seeking help.”

The serious case review, the findings of which have been only partially published, makes a number of recommendations for the future, including ensuring that arrangements are in place for the medical monitoring of the medical history of a child on the at risk register.