"Her death has become one of those major
modern occasions where there seems to have been a collective sense
of empathy for a stranger's fate. She has become an embodiment
of the betrayal, vulnerability and public abandonment of children.
The inquiry must mark the end of child protection policy built
on a hopeless process of child care tragedy, scandal, inquiry,
findings, brief media interest and ad hoc political response.
There is now a rare chance to take stock and rebuild"
Professor of Social Policy, Brunel University
1. Victoria Climbié died in the intensive
care unit of St Mary's Hospital Paddington on 25 February 2000,
aged 8 years and 3 months. Her death was caused by multiple injuries
arising from months of ill-treatment and abuse by her great-aunt,
Marie-Therese Kouao and her great-aunt's partner, Carl John Manning.
Following their conviction for her murder, Lord Laming was appointed
in April 2001 to chair an independent statutory inquiry into the
circumstances leading to and surrounding the death of Victoria
Climbié, and to make recommendations "as to how such
an event may, as far as possible, be avoided in the future."
The Report of the Inquiry was published on 28 January 2003.
2. It is impossible to read the Report without being
moved and appalled by the account of what happened to this little
girl, who was sent to England by her family in the Ivory Coast,
in the hope of a good education and a better life, but who ended
her days the victim of almost unimaginable cruelty. We wish to
place on the record our deepest sympathy for her parents, Francis
and Berthe Climbié.
3. We held a single evidence session with Lord Laming
on 27 March 2003. Our purpose was not to attempt to repeat the
detail of the Inquiry, but rather to consider and assess the recommendations
that Lord Laming made. We did not invite written evidence, nor
did we take oral evidence from witnesses other than Lord Laming.
This report is based solely on the evidence taken at that session,
and does not pretend to be a comprehensive analysis of all the
evidence presented to the original inquiry. We would like to express
our gratitude to Lord Laming for agreeing to give us evidence.
4. We were most ably assisted in this inquiry by
Melanie Henwood, an independent health and social care analyst.
We are most grateful to her for her work for us on this emotive
and complicated subject.
5. Our report is divided into three chapters. We
begin by exploring the background and context to any consideration
of the particular recommendations. We then turn to examine Lord
Laming's analysis of what went wrong and why, before considering
the detailed prescription for change.
1 Community Care, 30 January, p 18 Back
Department of Health and The Home Office, The Victoria Climbié
Inquiry, Report of an Inquiry by Lord Laming, Cm 5730, January