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Victoria Climbie's mother 'betrayed' by local government

Date:28 MAY 2008

The mother of Victoria Climbié, who was tortured and murdered in 2000, has told BBC Radio 4's Today program that she has been "betrayed" by local government authorities who have failed to implement recommendations made by Lord Laming, who led a government inquiry into her daughter's case.

Speaking through a translator, Victoria's mother, Berthe Climbié, said: "I am shocked by local institutions who did not take the responsibility to follow the Green Paper to ensure that the same thing does not happen to another child".

Mrs Climbié is visiting the UK from the Ivory Coast to attend a conference organised by the Victoria Climbié Foundation.

The eight-year-old lived with her great-aunt in Haringey, north London, 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.

Mrs Climbié praised the government for launching Lord Laming's six month enquiry and for introducing new legislation, but said the local authorities "did not respect it".

"If they had respected it, children would not still be dying left, right and centre", she said.

She added that local government had "given her their word but they did not live up to their responsibility".

Mrs Climbié is calling for a "revision" of the enquiry so that local authorities will be able to fully implement the findings of Lord Laming's report.

Lord Laming, who was asked to respond to Mrs Climbié's comments, said he agreed with her.

"I still don't have full confidence in the abilities of social services to protect children who are known to them," he said.

In February a report by the University of East Anglia (UEA), commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), found that during the period 2003 to 2005, agencies were struggling to prevent serious injury and death among abused and neglected children.

Despite Lord Laming's report, which was thought to have reformed child protection services, the UEA report found that 83 per cent of the families involved had been previously known to children's social care services and some cases were 'closed' just days or weeks before the incidents.

The Victoria Climbié Foundation's annual conference takes place today at Cowdray Hall in London. For more information, visit the Foundation's website by clicking here.