The department of health has announced the terms of reference
for the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie.
The ‘tripartite’ inquiry – the first of its kind to be
established – will be independent and held in public. It will
have a statutory base encompassing the Children Act, NHS Act and
the Police Act.
The inquiry will seek to establish the circumstances surrounding
the death of eight-year-old Victoria, (also known as Anna), at the
hands of her great aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and Carl Manning in
February last year.
A report containing recommendations for all agencies is expected
in spring 2002. This is much later than was originally announced by
health secretary Alan Milburn, who said a report would be published
in September this year.
Announcing the terms of reference, health minister John Hutton
said: “It is vitally important that child protection procedures
provide the maximum possible safeguards for vulnerable children.
This didn’t happen in Victoria’s case. We need,
therefore, to know why the failure occurred so that any necessary
measures can be taken to provide better protection in the
Lord Laming, who will chair the inquiry, backed holding in it
public: “I believe a public inquiry will be both more effective and
fair, and will ensure that matters are dealt with in an open and
honest manner. This will serve the interests of vulnerable children
best, and will ensure the general public can have confidence that
tragedies of this kind can be avoided.”
The inquiry will identify which services Kouao and Manning
requested, or required, for Victoria from councils, health agencies
and the police between her arrival in England in March 1999 and
when she died.
It will also examine the way these bodies responded to those
requests; discharged their functions; co-operated with each other;
and co-operated with other services including the local education
authorities and the local housing authorities.
Kouao and Manning were both given life sentences after being
convicted of Victoria’s murder.