New child protection agency will be considered in inquiry’s second phase

Victoria Climbie inquiry is to consider whether the setting up of a new child
protection agency would help address inconsistencies in the organisation and
delivery of children’s services.

two of the inquiry, due to start in March, will comprise a series of five
public seminars with evidence from experts in the field, focusing on a range of
issues from case assessment and monitoring performance to service provision and
sharing information between agencies.

session on service provision and delivery will consider whether the
establishment of a lead child protection agency would secure improvements in
services or simply obstruct effective partnership working and blur professional
lines of responsibility.

idea up for discussion is the creation of a virtual child protection agency
using information technology. A later seminar will consider whether area child
protection committees should continue, and, if they do, whether they should be
put on a statutory footing and take on new responsibilities.

will also be a discussion on the feasibility of a national system for producing
part 8 reviews that could be made available publicly so that lessons could be

to an inquiry spokesperson, Lord Laming and his team, who will sit in on the
seminars, "have become aware of wide variations in practice in the
assessment of vulnerable children and their carers so another seminar will look
at the effectiveness of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need
and their Families

team also want to consider ways of encouraging the wider community to help
identify children who may be at risk, particularly those who have just arrived
in the country, recently moved house or who are not living with their birth

seminars will be chaired by Neil Garnham QC, counsel to the inquiry, and will
be held in Hannibal House, south London. Between 12 and 20 people will be
selected from those who make submissions to phase two and will be invited to
give evidence at each seminar.

of the public will be able to attend and suggest questions in writing in
advance to be put to participants.

Address for submissions: Room 302, Hannibal House, Elephant and Castle, London
SE1 6TQ.

Baptiste’s mental health led to errors

team manager Carole Baptiste admitted last week that the mental health problems
she suffered from in 2000 would have been developing in 1999 in a way that
"would have had an impact" on her capacity to function as a social

her second day of evidence to the Climbie inquiry, Baptiste said that there was
"probably a lot of forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, not remembering
things, but not being aware I was not remembering things" during the time
she was responsible for supervising Victoria’s allocated social worker, Lisa

also accepted that her attitude to the way she managed children’s cases had
probably changed as a result of joining a "charismatic church" at the
beginning of 1999.

independent report by a consultant psychiatrist concluded it was likely that
Baptiste was developing "a serious psychotic mental illness during
1999", which "would have impaired seriously her capacity to function
as a social work team leader".

by inquiry chairperson Lord Laming whether she felt she had "made any
difference at all, beyond allocating the case, to the way in which Victoria’s
case was handled", Baptiste insisted she had done the best she could given
the circumstances.

A pre-trial review was held at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court last week on
the case against Baptiste, who is charged with refusing or deliberately failing
to attend the Climbie inquiry in December. The full trial will take place on 20

Seminar topic / Date / submission by

and inclusion / 8 March / 20 February
Identification / 15 March / 27 February
Determining requirements / 22 March / 6 March
Service provision and delivery / 12 April / 27 March
Monitoring performance / 19 April / 3 April

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