The announcement of the terms of reference of the inquiry into
the death of Victoria Climbie has prompted concern that the remit
is too narrow, writes Natalie Valios and Anabel Unity
The tripartite inquiry – the first of its kind to be
established – will be independent and held in public using
powers under the Children Act 1989, NHS Act 1977 and the Police Act
It will be chaired by Lord Laming working with a team of experts
from paediatric medicine, nursing, social services, and the police.
Their job will be to establish the circumstances surrounding the
death of Victoria (also known as Anna), who was killed by her great
aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her partner Carl Manning in Haringey
in February last year.
Pete Lewington, Haringey Unison assistant branch secretary,
said: “It will be a travesty if the only outcomes are the
disciplining of a few social work managers and revising procedures
– it will be missing the point. I don’t think that lessons will be
learned from this death unless the issues of how social work is
managed and resourced are examined.”
His view was backed by the NSPCC which said that the inquiry’s
remit needed to be broadened, rather than just focused on the
action of the relevant social services department, health and
police bodies. It also criticised the delay in reaching and
reporting its conclusions which will not be known until next
spring, 16 months after the inquiry was first announced.
Rob Hutchinson, chairperson of the Association of Directors of
Social Services’ children and families committee, called for an
analysis of the many pressures and demands on staff from all
disciplines who seek to maintain the system.
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 agencies 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.
Lord Laming said he believed holding the inquiry in public would
be fairer and more effective. “It 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
Haringey Council’s internal investigation into the circumstances
surrounding Victoria’s death is still continuing..