Victoria Climbie’s death was an accident waiting to happen, social
worker Lisa Arthurworrey said this week as she broke her media
silence to outline plans to clear her name.
Lisa Arthurworrey was allocated Victoria’s case in August 1999
after joining the council the previous November. She had just 18
months’ post-qualifying experience.
She was suspended from Haringey in October 2000 and sacked for
gross misconduct in November 2002, two months before Lord Laming
published his report into Victoria’s death.
Although Arthurworrey admits she made mistakes, she argues that she
was also failed by a lack of supervision and flawed procedures. She
believes she has been scapegoated and is preparing to take Haringey
to an employment tribunal.
Arthurworrey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week
that, at the time, front-line social workers were given directions,
then left to carry them out. “There was a small group of us that
used to work closely together but we were mainly inexperienced and
it was like the blind leading the blind,” she said.
“Managers were pre-occupied with their own careers and were just
not accessible to discuss cases with. Nobody seemed to care about
the work that we were doing or how we did it. The emphasis was on
progressing cases as quickly as possible.”
Arthurworrey is also appealing against her name being included on
the Protection of Children Act List, held by the Department for
Education and Skills and against which child care organisations
must check names before offering jobs.
“I don’t present as a risk to children,” Arthurworrey said. “There
was never any wilful neglect on my part in Victoria’s case. I got
it wrong because I didn’t receive the supervision or the resources
to get it right.”
Arthurworrey claims that she did her best to follow guidelines, but
said Haringey’s turned out to bear “no resemblance” to the Working
Together guidelines that she should have been following.
“I made serious mistakes. But at the end of the day, I was
following flawed procedures.”