Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Counting Cost of Saving Children

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Counting Cost of Saving Children

Article excerpt

Byline: By Dave Black

New measures aimed at protecting children from abuse will cost council taxpayers in Northumberland an extra pounds 277,000 a year.

Tougher child protection procedures have been demanded in the wake of the murder of eight-year-old Anna Climbie in London at the hands of her aunt and aunt's boyfriend three years ago.

Social services nationwide have been forced to examine their protection systems and make improvements in an effort to avoid any repeat of the scandal, which has been described as one of the worst cases of child abuse in Britain.

Yesterday councils in the North-East said they would have to change their procedures and find extra money to comply with recommendations made after the Government-commissioned inquiry by Lord Laming into the Climbie case.

Today, county councillors in Northumberland will be told the hard-up authority must find an extra pounds 277,500 a year to meet the Climbie Report recommendations.

The increased costs - which will have to come from money set aside for growth in the social services budget - come at a time when the council is spending about pounds 500,000 a year less than it should on social services.

Northumberland will have to employ extra child protection case management and administrative staff, improve training, upgrade information systems and provide new offices.

The Laming Inquiry, which reported to MPs last January, investigated failings of social services, the NHS and the police in the months leading up to Anna's horrific death.

Her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao, 44, and Carl Manning, 28, were jailed for life for her murder. Anna had 128 injuries on her emaciated body when she died, including scars from being beaten with a belt and a bicycle chain.

Concerns were raised about her but social workers who investigated said there was no evidence of abuse or neglect, then failed to visit the little girl and finally closed her file weeks before she died. …

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