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Baby P social workers investigated

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Social workers in Haringey who were involved in the tragic Baby P case are being investigated by professional regulators.

The local council's own report on the death of the 17-month-old boy, who had suffered months of abuse despite being on the at-risk register, showed a host of failings on the part of the council, the Metropolitan Police, and health professionals.

One of the nation’s top children’s services directors, John Coughlan, is to be parachuted into Haringey on the orders of children's secretary Ed Balls.

An inquiry into the social workers is being conducted by General Social Care Council (GSCC).

The GSCC chair, Rosie Varley, said: “We are deeply saddened by this case and we are conducting our own preliminary enquiries to establish whether the circumstances have any bearing on the suitability of individual social workers to remain on the register.

“As the regulator of social work education and training, we think this case underlines the need for high quality support and training, which cannot guarantee that tragic cases like this will not happen, but can help reduce the risk. We would like to strengthen the system of ongoing training and think there needs to be a debate about the potential advantage of introducing a compulsory requirement for social workers to undertake post-qualifying training.

"No social worker should be permitted to take on complex child protection work until they have the relevant specialist training.

"We have a code of practice for employers which sets out their responsibilities and we would like to explore how we can strengthen the status of this so that employers who fail to provide adequate training can be sanctioned.”

In a written ministerial statement, Mr Balls said Coughlan would begin working alongside the borough’s existing children’s services director Sharon Shoesmith while an emergency review was carried out into the Baby P tragedy.

Mr Balls told BBC Radio 4 he was angry that a child had died in this way.

"If there are failings, there has to be accountability," he said.

The statement itself said: “There was evidence of poor quality practice, management and supervision of staff in all agencies.

“Clearly such findings in an individual case raise serious concerns about the wider systems and management of services for safeguarding children in Haringey.

“In the light of these findings, I have today decided that OFSTED, the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection and the Chief Inspector of Constabulary should carry out an urgent Joint Area Review of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in Haringey.”

Mr Balls said he expected the review to be complete by December 1, and that Mr Coughlan - director of children’s services at Hampshire CC and a former joint president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services - would be drafted into Haringey during the process.

In a clear sign of shattered confidence in the current Haringey regime, Mr Balls said the move would “ensure that proper procedures for safeguarding children are in place and are being properly applied”.

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