Directors urged to visit the front line

Directors of social services should spend an hour a day with
front-line staff to find out how they are working and help avoid
disasters on the scale of that which befell Victoria Climbie,
counsel to the Laming inquiry said this week.

Neil Garnham QC urged directors to develop the habit of dropping in
without warning and going through duty teams’ files to find out
what was going on.

Garnham told a lecture on Victoria’s legacy at Sussex University:
“The essence of accountability is not just systems and procedures.
It’s also what the Americans call ‘walking the talk’. Without that,
managers might as well not bother with committees and

Garnham said that, after questioning Lisa Arthurworrey for two
days, he had “more than a little sympathy for her”.

But he had no such sympathy for her immediate managers or their
seniors who had subjected their staff to “wholly unacceptable”

“It’s nonsensical to suggest the blame can stop with junior staff,”
he said.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s parents this week announced they would be
taking legal action against the authorities that failed to protect
their daughter.

Francis and Berthe Climbie are planning to sue two hospital trusts,
Ealing, Brent and Haringey councils and the Metropolitan

The decision, which coincides with the third anniversary of
Victoria’s death, follows the publication of Lord Laming’s report
last month in which he criticised the authorities’ handling of the
case as “lamentable”.

The Climbie’s’ solicitor, Raju Bhatt, said the couple had decided
there could be “no dispute about the reckless indifference which
coloured the failure of all the relevant authorities” involved with

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