A police officer refused to visit Victoria
Climbie’s home because she feared she would contract scabies, the
inquiry into the eight-year-old’s death has heard.
PC Karen Jones, a member of Haringey child
protection team, became involved with Victoria after the child was
taken to North Middlesex Hospital by her great aunt Marie-Therese
Kouao on 24 July 1999 with scalding to her head and face.
Kouao told medical staff that Victoria had
poured boiling water over her head to relieve itching from scabies,
an explanation accepted by hospital staff and Jones.
Concerns were raised, however, by a nurse who
observed scars on Victoria’s body possibly caused by a belt buckle.
Four days later a referral reached Haringey child protection team
who set up a strategy meeting.
But the inquiry heard how Jones did not pursue
the concerns about belt buckle marks because it “was not clear a
criminal offence had taken place”. The cause of the scars had not
been confirmed by doctors and “reasonable grounds to suspect” was
needed, she said.
But counsel for the inquiry Neil Garnham asked
Jones: “Police do not start their investigations once it has been
proved there is a crime do they?”
The inquiry also heard how Jones and Haringey
social worker Lisa Arthurworrey invited Kouao for an interview at
social services offices because they did not want to risk catching
scabies from Kouao’s home.
Garnham said Jones had breached her duty as a
police officer by failing to speak to Victoria until she had been
in hospital for two weeks. He added that her investigation into the
crime had been inadequate.
The Climbies’ solicitor Imran Khan issued a
statement saying: “Karen Jones does not seem to understand the
difference between reasonable suspicion and evidence.”