Official Wanted Baby P With Carer
Social services in Haringey, north London, were split over how to protect Baby P, who died following months of abuse, the BBC’s Panorama has learned.
It found a key social worker and police did not want Baby P to go back to his mother – one of three people later convicted of causing his death.
Sylvia Henry, the senior social worker in the case, had wanted Baby P to go to a foster carer and found a placement.
But her bosses decided he should be looked after by family or friends.
This was as detailed in the Children’s Act 1989.
The child was placed in the care of Angela Godfrey, a friend of his mother, after doctors found he had non-accidental injuries in December 2006.
In her witness statement, Ms Henry said she had been “very reluctant” to let Baby P be looked after by Ms Godfrey.
“My impression of Angela was that she believed the local authority were over-reacting,” the statement detailed.
Ms Henry also revealed Ms Godfrey asked for “a large sum of money” for looking after the child, and continually pressed for his return home. Baby P suffered no injuries whilst in her care.
The boy was put on the child protection register and a police investigation began.
But with no new evidence to support a prosecution, services manager Clive Preece instructed that the boy should go back home.
However, Ms Henry had delayed this because police had expressed a similar opinion to her own, that the child should remain “out of the care of his mother”.
In a statement Haringey Social Services said: “Mr Preece did not overrule concerns of social workers.
“No concerns were raised regarding placement with Angela Godfrey at the time of the placement.”
Baby P was admitted to the North Middlesex Hospital in June 2007, and a confidential police report seen by Panorama reveals police and social services had a serious disagreement over the boy not being taken into care.
But police eventually agreed to sign up to a care plan that meant Baby P was yet again returned home.
In response to this claim, Haringey said that rigorous discussion was expected between professionals when dealing with child protection, and that police had agreed to the final plans for Baby P.
The confidential police document goes on to criticise social workers for being too optimistic about the mother and not focused enough on the child.
Haringey said police did not express such views during discussions, and that some of these have been formed “with the benefit of hindsight”.
Sources have told the programme that police were never told about Baby P being admitted previously to North Middlesex Hospital in April 2006.
However, the duty social worker was alerted after the boy went to hospital with a large swelling to his head.
Haringey said it did not inform police because child protection issues were not flagged up by the hospital, and it followed procedures.
Baby P died on 3 August 2007, the day after his mother was told she would not be prosecuted for his injuries.
His case has echoes of that of Victoria Climbie, who was murdered in Haringey in 2000 – the council was criticised for failing to protect her.
An official inquiry, headed by Lord Laming, into her death found the eight-year-old had been let down by several agencies.
The government has asked him to conduct a national review to see if his recommendations, stemming from her case, are being put into practice.
Panorama: What Happened to Baby P? will be broadcast on BBC One at 2030 GMT on Monday 17 November