A leading campaigner is demanding a public inquiry into the child protection system, claiming that radical reforms prompted by the death of Victoria Climbié have been ineffective.
Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbié Foundation UK, said there had been no “discernable improvements,” almost seven years after the eight-year-old’s death despite a public inquiry by Lord Laming, which led to Every Child Matters and the Children Act 2004.
He pointed to three child deaths in London alone over the past seven months, in Haringey, Westminster and Hackney, as evidence that the system continued to fail children.
“Recent cases almost mirror Victoria Climbié. It’s unacceptable given the work and reforms that have taken place over the last seven years.
“After every child protection disaster we hear the cliché that lessons will be learned but they are empty words,” he argued.
“I am really fed up with hearing that the issue is resources. It cannot continued to be used as excuse when children are dying,” added Dioum.
He called on the government broaden the scope of serious case reviews to ensure that families were involved in investigations.
“Sadly the most important people are not given the opportunity to have their input. My view is that this is a violation of one’s civil liberties,” said Dioum.
He also urged the government to design a legal protocol to force agencies to share information.
“We must clear away the conflict of interest so that children can be seen and heard unequivocally,” he added.
He told delegates at a conference organised by the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in London last week that agencies operated with “complacency and secrecy” and that recent failures were not “unique or unprecedented”.
An independent social worker, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed with Dioum but said that the system has deteriorated since Laming’s inquiry.
She claimed that decisions about cases were being made higher up in the system while the assessments of frontline social workers were ignored. “It’s about targets, money and dogmatic procedures,” she said.
Victoria Climbié Foundation UK