Baby P inquiry gets to work

The inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of Baby P begins today, just hours after children’s secretary Ed Balls announced it last night.

It is understood Sharon Shoesmith, the director of Haringey Council’s children’s services, has been temporarily replaced.

Today, Haringey council put a statement up on its website saying the baby’s death was a matter of “deepest sorrow”.

Councillor Liz Santry, cabinet member for children and young people wrote: “It is a matter of the deepest sorrow that Baby P died in Haringey.

“Our priority has to be and has always been to safeguard children in our borough and as an authority we were all devastated by the death of this child.

“That is why, in light of the tragic death, the verdict and the publication of the serious case review executive summary we welcome the additional help and support the government’s proposed review of Haringey Council’s children and young people’s services will offer.”

In the Commons today, deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman said: “There seems to have been up to 60 missed opportunities to save that babies life.

“That is I think why everyone finds this case so particularly tragic. I think we all want to make sure that lessons are learnt.”

The 17-month old boy died in August last year and, after the boyfriend of the baby’s mother and their lodger were found guilty of causing or allowing their death, has prompted a political storm.

The child had effectively been used as a punchbag for the entirety of its 17 month life. Haringey council, which visited the baby 60 times without taking action, faces a joint area review as a result.

The probe is being implemented by Ofsted, the Commission for Healthcare Audit and the chief inspector of constabulary. It has until December 1st to submit its first report.

Haringey council’s inaction continued even when a doctor highlighted the fact the baby’s injuries were ‘non-accidental’.

A serious case review found evidence of poor quality practice, management and supervision of staff in all agencies.

Health professionals “appear to have failed to follow the appropriate procedures” when dealing with a child having suffered non-accidental injuries.

Inappropriate use of family friends as temporary carers for Baby P was also established.

Haringey council faces additional criticism because it was rebuked following the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000.

“Clearly such findings in an individual case raise serious concerns about the wider systems and management of services for safeguarding children in Haringey,” Mr 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.”

Wider concerns about the quality of social care across the country have been raised as a result of the incident.

Conservative leader David Cameron yesterday called for heads to roll and said he was “sickened to the core” by the crime.