Haringey has once again found itself in the middle of controversy around its children's services, as a coroner, Mary Hassell, gave her verdict on the death of two month old Lily-Mai Saint George in 2018.
"I have heard the evidence of several professionals who were charged with taking care of Lily-Mai, that the doctors and nurses at Barnet Hospital were extremely concerned about her and that they did not believe it was safe for her to be discharged to the care of her parents.
"And yet Haringey children's services did facilitate that discharge, and that is utterly bewildering to me."
Haringey has been at the centre of several high-profile failings in recent years, including the deaths of Victoria Climbié in 2000 and Baby P in 2007, and the abuse of Child T in 2013. In another case just last year, Justice Hayden said:
"I do not think that I have ever had to criticise a local authority to the extent that I have found it necessary to do in this case."
The council has continuously stated that it has learned from previous cases, and has blamed isolated incidents which do not reflect wider practice.
Tammy Palmer (Liberal Democrat-Crouch End), Haringey Opposition spokesperson for Children & Families, said:
"I am saddened by the tragic and wholly avoidable death of baby Lily-Mai Saint George. Haringey has a shocking history of failing to protect our most vulnerable children dating back over 20 years but nothing seems to be changing.
"Last year, in response to another horrifying case, I wrote to the Chief Social Worker, calling for an independent review of Haringey Children's Services, but she refused and delegated responsibility to a neighbouring authority. Despite repeated prompting, we have yet to see any outcomes or recommendations.
"We are told again and again that lessons are being learned in the council, and yet these failures continue. It looks clearer than ever that this is a systemic problem that has not been, and is not being, addressed. This is a department charged with keeping some of the borough's most vulnerable children and young people safe. It seems obvious now that root and branch reform of Haringey's children's services is desperately, and urgently, needed."
Previous quotes from Haringey politicians:
- Then Labour leader of the council, Claire Kober, speaking after 'Baby P' judgement in 2009: "We are making sure that our social workers get the basics right, with new managers, new procedures to support staff and new training."
- Then Labour leader of the council, Claire Kober, speaking after 'Child T' judgement in 2013: "This case occurred during a period of rebuilding in our children's service. We have been working hard over the past three years to make significant improvements, which have been recognised by Ofsted."
- Then Labour children & families cabinet member, Zena Brabazon, speaking after the 'Child A & B' judgement in 2020: "We firmly believe that this judgement is not a reflection of our wider practice in children's social care. Since the Ofsted inspection of 2018 we have made significant changes, and Haringey has been commended by Ofsted and its partners for its work strengthening and improving its children's services."