I am sure most of you will remember the awful case of neglect and abuse suffered by Peter Connelly, known as “Baby P”. Haringey Council’s child protection unit failure resulted in his tragic death. Haringey Council were also criticised over the death of Victoria Climbie.
It seems that they have failed yet again in that a child known as ‘Child T’ suffered extensive injuries and despite two separate investigations in 2010 and 2011 Haringey failed to take him into care. He was found to have 50 bruises on his body at one stage and spoke of being hit with a belt and stick.
After a serious case review was carried out, Haringey were described of causing “confusion” and “lacking focus”.
It is alleged that Child T’s half-sister told authorities she was sometimes abused. Child T was returned from hospital back to his family after he had suffered serious injuries and the abuse was allowed to continue.
The first injuries took place in summer 2010 when he was taken to London’s North Middlesex Hospital with bruising around the eyes, forehead and nose. His Mother’s partner told authorities he often ran around the house and “bangs and hits himself on the wall”. When police and social services later visited their home, the man claimed the boy bruised very easily.
A paediatrician allegedly expressed “strong concern” that he was being beaten, but police found no cause for concern at the house and stopped investigating. Further injuries were discovered in February 2011 when officers were called to the house over claims of domestic violence. The boy was found badly bruised and his mother’s partner, who had a heroin problem, was arrested. He denied beating the boy but his Mother contradicted his story.
When examined, Child T was found to have sustained more than 50 bruises on his body, and he told a doctor he had been beaten with a belt and stick. The child’s half-sister also told police his Mother’s partner had “tried to drown her” during bath time and said she had once been hit with a rod.
Social services started taking steps to bring the children into care. Because Mr C remained in police custody however, it was decided there was no immediate need to remove them from the home. More new bruising was discovered just days later during another hospital visit and Child T and his three siblings were finally taken into care.
Experts later said the injuries were likely to have been inflicted by the boy’s mother or grandmother.
Haringey Council’s involvement in the case was “misguided and lacked focus”, said the serious case review. It said the “evidence was highly suggestive of child abuse” and “there was evidence of organisational confusion” within both health and social services.
The abuse could have been prevented, said Haringey Children’s Service. The chairman of Haringey’s Safeguarding Children Board, Graham Badman, expressed his “sincere regret” for the children’s suffering.
He said: “What is clear is that because of failings in the system this child suffered physical abuse that could have been prevented. It would be an oversimplification to describe this case as a series of missed opportunities, they existed but there is more seriously, compelling evidence of individual and systemic failure.”
The board has announced changes, including ways to improve communication and information sharing.
However, Mr Badman added: “Arguably it is not more change that is needed, but action to ensure that agreed systems are used and their effectiveness monitored and evaluated.” It is clear that not enough is being done to keep vulnerable children safe from harm.