Balls Orders Urgent Inquiry Into Baby P Case

Government orders urgent review into child welfare within Haringey council, the local authority responsible for the care of Baby P

The government has ordered an urgent review into child welfare within Haringey council, the local authority responsible for the care of a baby who died despite 60 visits by health and social care workers.

Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, issued a statement describing the case of Baby P as tragic and appalling. The case had earlier sparked angry exchanges in parliament between the prime minister, Gordon Brown, and the Conservative leader, David Cameron.

“It is our duty to take whatever action is needed to ensure that such a tragedy doesn’t happen again, that lessons are learned and that children in Haringey are safe,” Balls said.

Beverley Hughes, the children’s minister, called for further investigations into Haringey council earlier, saying that more examination of the senior management levels at the north London borough was needed to see if anyone should take responsibility for the death of the 17-month-old boy, known in court as Baby P despite visits from officials over an eight-month period.

“I think the council has a responsibility, it is an elected body, it has the responsibility to ask itself the question, in the light of this case, whether there is an accountability at another level in the management of this case,” she told GMTV.

Baby P, who was on the child protection register, died in August last year after suffering more than 50 injuries. His mother, her partner and another man have been convicted of involvement in his death.

Sharon Shoesmith, the chairwoman of the Haringey safeguarding children board, said three professionals had received formal written warnings.

Haringey council was previously criticised over the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié in 2000.

Lord Laming, who called for a series of reforms in the wake of her death, described the similarities as “dispiriting”.

Hughes has asked him to prepare an independent report into the implementation of the reforms across the country.

“It is unacceptable that in a case like that, we can’t say that we can protect children. That is unacceptable. That is why I have asked Lord Laming to give me a view as to what the situation is like in terms of progress of implementing his report across the country,” she said.

“It is why I have also said I am looking personally into the case of Haringey. I think what has happened there does need further examination.”

In his statement, Balls said: “The review will need to undertake an urgent and thorough inspection of the quality of practice and management of all services which contribute to the effective safeguarding of children in the local area. It will be important to ensure rigorous scrutiny of the quality of practice and decision making by front line workers and their managers, and of the effectiveness of management practice and performance management systems in all relevant agencies.”

The review will be conducted by the government’s schools inspectorate, Ofsted, the commission for healthcare audit and inspection and the chief inspector of constabulary.