Haringey joint review was “overly positive”, Climbie inquiry told

The internal report into the 1999 joint review of Haringey
social services has concluded that it presented an “overly
positive” picture of the department because of the processes used
to collect material, writes Sally

The review, undertaken three months before Victoria Climbie
died, placed too much emphasis on how Haringey had done in the past
and also its vision of the future, says the report.

It adds: “There was less emphasis on how well Haringey was
actually doing, particularly in relation to statutory duties.”

Children on the child protection register and those looked after
were, says the report, virtually the only children receiving a
direct service. But the reviewers did not make it clear what
services were provided for other children in need, including
children like Victoria.

“There is the possibility they never received a service or only
received one when they reached the threshold for child protection
action,” the report says.

This issue was not highlighted in the 1999 review and, says the
report, “judgements on performance should be based on statutory
requirements, rather than performance relative to other local

Issues such as the impact of rising referrals, resource
constraints and the pressures that first line managers were under,
were “not brought together in sufficient focus in the joint review
report, so giving rise to the overly positive picture”.

Earlier, the co-author of the joint review admitted that he
should have emphasised its weaknesses more clearly.

Dennis Simpson, an inspector with the Audit Commission, told the
Victoria Climbie inquiry that he had included in the joint review a
number of concerns about practice issues, fragile services and poor
services but they were “scattered” throughout the report.

Simpson said that because people tend to read the executive
summaries, he “could have been stronger at the beginning and at the
end [of the report] of in terms of pointing out practice
deficiencies that we discovered”.

Increased pressures on the children and families service, as
well as potential cuts of £5 million were included in the
report, said Simpson.

He added: “It seems to me in a report of 100 pages I could not
have been clearer in pointing out, in spelling out the potential
financial problems and issues that Haringey faced as a whole as
well as the potential implications for children and family

There was also evidence that children’s services did not
work well with health agencies.

“There was not a good relationship with health in terms of
providing an integrated service and that was a critical service in
terms of support for children in need, and Haringey had not
identified the cruciality of that. They had not understood the
seriousness of that or the importance of that,” he said.

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