The Tottenham child and family centre practice manager who was
allocated Victoria Climbie’s case, was forced to deny accusations
that she had tampered with evidence, writes Katie
Sylvia Henry disputed claims from Neil Sheldon, counsel to the
inquiry, that she could have added details to the centre’s notes
after hearing that Victoria had died, and realising that a referral
had been made to the centre which nothing had been done about.
Victoria was referred to the centre on 5 August 1999 and was
allocated to Henry on 13 August. Henry made a record to close the
case after a phonecall to Barry Almeida, which she claims to have
made ‘promptly’ during which she was told that the family had moved
out of the borough. However the record was not dated or signed.
Sheldon suggested that there appeared to be three other
possibilities relating to Henry’s treatment of the case. Firstly
that she didn’t make a phonecall to Barry Almeida until after
December 1999 when the council first suspected Victoria may have
left the area; secondly that she made the call and was given the
wrong information, or thirdly that the note on the contact sheet
did not accurately reflect what she was told.
Henry said the family centres became “dumping grounds” receiving
Earlier in the day, fellow practice manager Ernell Watson
described the centre as overburdened often exceeding the one third
quota for child protection cases. Timescales for dealing with cases
were not met, and referrals were often sent without key information
or proper assessment, she said.