Tuesday 28 January 2003
VICTORIA CLIMBIÉ REPORT CALLS FOR RADICAL CHANGE IN THE MANAGEMENT
OF PUBLIC SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
The Report of the Victoria Climbié Inquiry was published today (28th
January 2003). It follows three Inquiries using powers under the
Children Act 1989, NHS Act 1977 and Police Act 1996. The public
inquiry was set up following Victoria Climbié's tragic death on
25 February 2000 and the subsequent murder conviction of her carers,
Marie-Therese Kouao and Carl Manning, in January 2001.
Victoria came into contact with four social services departments,
three housing departments, two specialist child protection teams
of the Metropolitan Police, two hospitals and a families centre
managed by the NSPCC.
The Report details a catalogue of administrative, managerial and
professional failure. It outlines a number of occasions upon which
the most minor and basic intervention on the part of the staff concerned
could have made a material difference to the eventual outcome. Many
of the concerns identified in Victoria's case are replicated elsewhere
in the country.
In Lord Laming's view, Chairman of the Inquiry, "the legislative
framework is fundamentally sound. The gap is in its implementation.
Having considered all the evidence it is not to the often hapless
front-line staff that I direct most criticism for the failure to
protect Victoria. True their performance often fell well short of
an acceptable standard of work. But the greatest failure rests with
the senior managers and members of the organisations concerned whose
responsibility it was to ensure that the services they provided
to children such as Victoria were properly financed, staffed and
able to deliver good quality services to children and families.
They must be accountable."
The Report outlines three areas:
a fundamental change in the mind-set of managers in key public
services, who must see their role in terms of the quality of
services delivered at the front door rather than in administrating
bureaucratic and sometimes self-serving procedures
a clear and unambiguous line of managerial accountability both
within and across public services
the current arrangements of Area Child Protection Committees
or any proposal for a national child protection agency, should
be replaced by a new National Agency for children and families.
This Agency should have powers to ensure that all of the
key services affecting children and families - health, housing
and police - carry out their duties in an efficient and
effective way. The Chief Executive of this agency could
undertake the functions of a Children's Commissioner for England.
The Agency should report to a new ministerial committee for
services to children, chaired by a minister of cabinet rank
who would be responsible for ensuring that policies, legislation
and departmental initiatives affecting children and families
are properly considered, financed and co-ordinated. Similar arrangements
need to operate at a local level.
Lord Laming said, "It is an agenda for action now. The Report
contains some 108 recommendations. Of those, 46 should be implemented
in three months and a further 38 in six months. Some of the recommendations
are disarmingly self-evident - and for the most part should be current
good practice. That they have had to be made should be a reproach
to everyone with responsibility for the safety of children. Now
is the time for every chief executive to conduct a thorough audit
of the quality and effectiveness of services to children and families
and to have in place - before summer - an action plan to speedily
remedy any defects. Nothing less will do.
"The best that we can hope for from the terrible ordeal suffered
by Victoria, who was brought to this country for a better life,
is that this Report is the last of its kind and that, in future,
the aspiration of the legislation will be reflected in day by day
practice across the country. That is the challenge to us all." LORD
LAMING handed his report into the death of Victoria Climbié to the
Government on 6th January 2003. The Government will set a date for
publication in due course.
Notes to Editors
Terms of Reference (full details in the Report)
To establish the circumstances leading to and surrounding the death
of Victoria Climbié;
to reach conclusions as to the circumstances leading to Victoria
Climbié's death and make recommendations to the Secretary of State
for Health and to the Secretary of State for the Home Department
as to how such an event may, as far as possible, to be avoided in
For further information:
Please contact Victoria Climbié Inquiry press office
Tel: 07904 030 404
Fax: 07904 030 268