Climbie police face misconduct charges

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The Independent Online

Police officers involved in the case of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie before she was murdered are to face misconduct charges, it was announced today.

Police officers involved in the case of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie before she was murdered are to face misconduct charges, it was announced today.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ordered that six officers from the Metropolitan Police should face a tribunal for allegedly failing to perform their duties properly.

A spokesman said one police constable, three police sergeants, a detective inspector and a detective chief inspector should be charged with misconduct and face an internal Met tribunal.

Victoria died after suffering 128 injuries to her body in February 2000.

Her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl John Manning are serving life for her murder.

In addition to the six officers, a further detective inspector and a chief superintendent will receive "words of advice" for failure to perform their duties.

IPCC commissioner Laurence Lustgarten said: "We understand that this announcement may awaken painful memories for the family, but I hope this is another step forward in their search for justice.

"The inquiry was fair and objective, and looked at the actions of officers of all rank.

"The tribunal will be arranged by the Metropolitan Police Service."

The "full powers" tribunal which will hear the cases can dismiss any officer found guilty, or require them to resign.

The officers could alternatively face caution, reprimand, written warning, demotion or a fine if found guilty.

They will be entitled to full legal representation.

The Metropolitan Police Authority is still considering whether disciplinary measures will be taken against two senior officers - a temporary commander and a commander.

The inquiry was conducted by the Metropolitan Police Directorate of Professional Standards under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, which has now been succeeded by the IPCC.

Victoria was one of Britain's worst child abuse victims.

She had been sent to Britain to stay with Kouao - but she and Manning starved, beat and tied up the little girl in a freezing bathroom.

Victoria's last moments were spent in a hospital casualty ward where the temperature of her broken body was so low it did not register on a standard thermometer and her legs could not be straightened.

Yet for several months Victoria had been known to two police child protection teams, four social services departments, two housing authorities and a specialist centre of the NSPCC.

She had also been admitted to two different hospitals bearing injuries.

Lord Laming, who headed the public inquiry into her death, said he was "amazed" that none of them did anything to save her.

Victoria's parents, Francis and Berthe, have launched a campaign to build a school in her home town of Abobo in the Ivory Coast, to help ensure that she did not die in vain.

The officers are accused of alleged neglect of duty.

They all worked for the child protection teams at Brent and Haringey which came into contact with Victoria.

Some of them gave evidence to Lord Laming's public inquiry which investigated the failings in Britain's child protection system that missed at least 12 chances to save Victoria's life.

Lord Laming's inquiry reported in January 2003. This inquiry, along with the realisation that action should be taken against senior officers, was the reason for the delay in laying misconduct charges, an IPCC spokesman said.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "It is still a matter of extreme regret that Victoria suffered and died in the way that she did.

"A murder investigation conducted by the Met's Specialist Crime Directorate successfully brought those responsible for Victoria's murder to justice.

"Six police officers who worked within the Met's child protection system are to be formally disciplined.

"A date will be set in due course.

"Until the conclusion of all discipline matters, we are unable to discuss the details further."

He added: "We would like to point that since the tragic death of Victoria, child protection in London has made great strides in improving services to children.

"Child protection teams have been brought together for the first time under a central management structure that has improved the status and priority given to child protection.

"Since this re-structuring, there are more staff who are better trained and resourced in order to undertake some of the most demanding investigations within policing."