FOR ALL THE BACKGROUND ON THE VICTORIA CLIMBIE CASE
Main points in Lord Laming’s report:
- a new national agency for children and families should
be set up
- chief executive of agency to take on role of
- area child protection committees replaced by new
- child must be seen and interviewed within 24 hours of
allegations of abuse being made
and national database of all children under
For a more detailed list of recommendations
Lord Laming has called for fundamental changes to be made to
children and families services in his inquiry report into Victoria
Climbie’s death, writes Clare Jerrom.
The chairperson of the inquiry recommends an overhaul of the
system both at a local and national level.
A children and families board should be established at the heart
of government and chaired by a minister of cabinet rank.
In addition, a national agency for children and f amilies should
be created to service the children and families board. The chief
executive of this agency would take on some of the responsibilities
of a children’s commissioner for England.
The agency would advise on the implementation of the United
Convention of the Rights of the Child and on setting nationally
agreed outcomes for children.
However, at a local level each local authority with responsible
for social services should establish a committee for children and
families with members from local authorities, police authorities,
and relevant boards and trusts of health services.
This committee will oversee the work of a management board for
services to children and families, which will be made up of chief
officers from police, social services, health education, housing
and probation. The board will appoint a director of children and
families services at local levels, and this person will be
responsible for ensuring service delivery including the
effectiveness of inter-agency working.
“The purpose of these proposals is to secure a clear line of
accountability for the protection of children and the wellbeing of
families,” Laming said.
“Never again should people in senior positions be free to claim
– as they did in this inquiry – ignorance of what was happening to
The new structure at a local level should replace area child
protection committees which have generally become “unwieldy,
bureaucratic, and with limited impact on frontline services”.
However, Laming dismissed the idea of a national child
protection agency arguing it is not possible to separate the
protection of children from wider support from families. This
support is a multi-disciplinary task, he added.
The report makes 108 recommendations, 46 of which are social
care related. These include recommendation 20 under which
directors of social services must ensure staff in their children
and families intake teams are experienced in working with children
and families, and that they have received appropriate training.
Under recommendation 35 directors of social services must ensure
that children who are the subject of allegations of deliberate harm
are seen and spoken to within 24 hours of the allegation being
communicated to social services.
Recommendation 52 says directors of social services must ensure
that no cases are allocated to a social worker unless the manager
has ensured the person has the necessary training, experience, and
time to deal with it properly.
Laming concludes “sadly the report is a vivid demonstration of
poor practice within and between social services, the police and
health agencies. It is also a stark reminder of the consequences of
ineffective and inept management.
“It is the hope of the full inquiry team that the horror of what
happened to Victoria will endure as a reproach to bad practice and
be a beacon pointing the way to securing the safety and wellbeing
of all children in our society.”
Laming also recommends: the government should issue guidance on
the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998, and common
law rules on confidentiality where they are preventing information
sharing between agencies, and a national children’s database on all
children under the age of 16.
To download a full copy of the report