Pressure on senior managers increases

Two senior social services managers will face increasing
pressure to resign for their failings in the case of Victoria
Climbie after it was revealed that more action has been taken
against other staff involved in the case, writes David

Brent council has dismissed the manager of the intake duty team
responsible for assessing the status of children deemed at risk of
abuse at the time Climbie was referred to the authority.

Edward Armstrong was found guilty of gross misconduct at an
internal disciplinary hearing. His appeal against dismissal has now
been rejected.

It has also been revealed that another senior social worker in
Armstrong’s team was given a final written warning, which has now
lapsed. The authority cleared Michelle Hines, the senior social
worker who lifted the police protection after consultant
paediatrician Dr Ruby Schwartz ruled out non-accidental causes for
the injuries Climbie suffered.

Meanwhile, detective chief inspector Philip Wheeler has been
removed from his secondment to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of
Constabulary after he was heavily criticised in Laming’s report for
his “totally ineffective” management of Brent and Haringey police
child protection teams. The inspectorate said it was now
“inappropriate” for him to inspect other officers.

The two most senior social workers at Haringey at the time of
Victoria’s death, director of social services, Mary Richardson and
her assistant, Carol Wilson, have remained in their new jobs as
director of Hackney and Waltham Forest social services

Hackney council said there were no plans to examine Richardson’s
position. It said she “has presided over the significant progress
which has taken place in the department,” since her appointment in
November 1999.

Waltham Forest council said it had no plans to review Wilson’s

One of the key points Laming makes in his report is that
councils failed to take action against managers while disciplining
and in some cases dismissing frontline workers.

Haringey’s Labour Group is to raise a motion calling for the
council to take “collective responsibility” for its part in events
leading to Victoria’s death. Two councillors were criticised in
Laming’s report, but the Labour Group will argue responsibility
lies with the council rather than individual councillors.

* A Community Care survey of directors of social services has
revealed that the vast majority believe Lord Laming was right to
direct his harshest criticisms at senior managers.

The straw poll of directors from councils around the country
found that only 12 per cent disagreed with Laming’s attack on
senior managers, saying he should have also been more critical of

The majority believed that the management board for children and
families, which would replace the area child protection committee,
should be headed by the director of social services, and not the
chief executive of the council, as Laming has recommended.

Nearly 90 per cent of directors who took part in the poll felt
they would be aware if lack of supervision, poor practice and
excessive caseloads were a problem in any of their child protection

All but one believed that it was realistic for directors to take
on the extra tasks outlined in the report.

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