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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

12 NOV 2008

Lord Laming to conduct a review after the death of Baby P

Ministers have called for an urgent review of child protection laws as the full extent of the injuries inflicted upon a 17-month-old baby, known only as Baby P, have emerged.

The calls came after two men were convicted at the Old Bailey of causing or allowing the death of the baby boy who was "used as a punchbag".

The baby's mother, 27, was convicted of the same offence at the end of October.

The mother, her 32-year-old boyfriend and a house guest, Jason Owen, 36, were all cleared of murder because the jury could not agree on which of them had caused the injuries. The mother and her boyfriend cannot be named for legal reasons.

The mother of the baby managed to deceive social workers into believing that the injuries that led to her son's death were accidental. The baby was seen 60 times by health or social workers during an eight-month period.

The case is being compared to the tragic murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié who lived with her great-aunt and died in February 2000 after she was tortured over a prolonged period by her great-aunt and her boyfriend. Victoria had been seen by professionals from various agencies 12 times, but each time they failed to pick up the abuse.

The homes of both the little boy and Victoria Climbié were both located within Haringey Council in north London.

Unlike Victoria Climbié, Baby P was on the child protection register. This has led Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbié Foundation, to describe the series of failings by Haringey Council as "worse than Climbié. The signs were there and not followed."

Two social workers and a lawyer have been given formal written warnings over the case, the Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board has said.

Minister for Children Beverley Hughes has asked Lord Laming who chaired the inquiry into Victoria Climbié's death, to investigate whether social workers across the country are carrying out his recommendations for protecting vulnerable children.

There has been ongoing criticism to the overall implementation of the recommendations made by Lord Laming in his inquiry.

Last month, the Audit Commission published an evaluation five years after the green paper Every Child Matters and eight years after Victoria Climbié's death, stating that "there is little evidence of better outcomes for children and young people" resulting from the requirement that local areas in England set up special panels to coordinate services.

In May, the mother of Victoria, Berthe Climbié, said she had been "betrayed" by local government authorities who have failed to implement recommendations made by Lord Laming.

And in February a report by the University of East Anglia, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, showed that during the period 2003 to 2005, agencies were struggling to prevent serious injury and death among abused and neglected children.

Baby P's mother, her boyfriend and house guest will be sentenced on December 15 when they each face a maximum sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

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