Victoria Climbie originally from the Ivory Coast was informally adopted by her aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao and lived in France between 1998 and 1999. In March of 1999 concerns were raised by the school, that Victoria appeared to have a dermatological condition and had arrived at school with a shaven head, wearing a wig. In April 1999 Victoria and her aunt left France and moved to England. Between April and July Kouao visited Ealing social services 18 times in an attempt to gain housing and financial assistance. Kouao began working in June 1999 and an unregistered child minder anonymously reported to Brent Social Services her concerns for Victoria’s welfare. Kouao met Carl Manning in June 1999 and moved into his flat with Victoria in July 1999, in the London Borough of Haringey. Between this time and Victoria’s death in February 2000, Victoria was subjected to neglect and torture, involving cigarette burns, being tied up for periods in excess of 24 hours, being hit with bike chains, hammers and wires. She was known to the police, social services of four local authorities, NHS, NSPCC and local churches, all of whom failed to properly investigate her case. On the 24th February 2000, Victoria was taken semi-conscious and suffering from; hypothermia, multiple organ failure and malnutrition, to a local church. The taxi driver that collected them from the church was so horrified at her condition, that he took them straight to A and E. Victoria died the following day. As a result Kouao and Manning were given life sentences, and a public enquiry was ordered and headed by Lord Laming. The subsequent report is known as the Laming Report. The death of Victoria Climbie was largely responsible for the introduction of ‘Every Child Matters’, Children’s Act 2004, the creation of Contact Point project, and the creation of a Childrens Commissioner for England. Laming Report:
The Laming report commenced in May 2001 and was split into two phases. Phase one, investigated the involvement of people and agencies in Victoria’s death, in the form of hearings. Two hundred and seventy witnesses were called between September 2001 and July 2002 which had been extended due to late submission of documents. Phase two, took the form of five seminars, which looked at the child protection system as a whole, and involved experts in all aspects of child protection. The 400 page Laming report was published on the 28th January 2003 and made 108 recommendations in child protection reform. It also looked at racial implications, as many of the people involved were black. It criticised agencies involved with the case stating that many of the councils were, under-staffed, under-funded, and poorly managed. It found that agencies involved in her care had failed to protect her and that on at least 12 occasions, workers involved in her case could have prevented her death, particularly condemning senior managers involved. The key recommendations were; Regional and Local committees for children and families to be set up, with members from all groups involved in child protection. A national register of children at risk (Child Database). By the time of publication, two organisations to improve the care of children had been set up; General Social Care Council, and the Social Care Institute for Excellence. Every Child Matters sets out 5 key aims:
* Be Healthy
* Stay safe
* Enjoy and achieve
* Make a positive contribution
* Achieve economic well-being.
To achieve these aims, a multi-agency approach should be adopted. Children’s Act 2004.
Was created to implement many of the Laming report recommendations. It primarily gives boundaries and help for local authorities and or other organisations to better regulate official intervention in the interests of children. It makes changes to laws relating to children with regard to: foster homes, adoption agencies, babysitting services and the handling of child related crimes and crimes against children (except where it is the local authority committing the crimes). Contact Point:
Was a database designed to hold information on all children in England and Wales, however no longer operates, due to criticism for its privacy and security and child protection reasons. Children’s Commissioner for England:
Works in the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, which is a non-departmental public body. The role of the commissioner is to promote awareness of the views and interests of all children in England, in particular those whose voices are least likely to be heard. He/she also has a duty to speak on behalf of all children in the UK, on issues which include immigration for the whole of the UK and, youth justice , for Wales. They also must have regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Department for Education and Skills (2006), Common Assessment Framework: Practitioners and Managers Guides. Victoria Climbie Inquiry, Laming Report 2003 Report of an Enquiry