Police wanted Baby P in care, programme reveals

Police wanted to place Baby P in care but were persuaded by social services to return him to his abusive mother, a documentary reveals today.

When the toddler was admitted to the North Middlesex Hospital in June last year with non-accidental injuries, police at the scene wanted to take him into care, according to the BBC's Panorama programme.

The programme said it obtained a confidential police report that described a "frank exchange of views" between police and Haringey social services, who preferred to return him to his mother.

The police eventually signed a care plan that allowed Baby P to be returned home, only to suffer further abuse before his death in August last year.

It is the latest revelation in the case of the brutal death of the blond, blue-eyed toddler that has sparked a major child care investigation at Haringey council. Baby P suffered more than 50 injuries despite 60 visits from the authorities over eight months.

Yesterday members of Haringey Council's Labour group maintained a wall of silence after attending an emergency meeting to discuss fresh developments in the case.

The councillors present at the meeting did not want to talk about what had been discussed and left the building by a rear exit down an overgrown back alley.

Cllr Ali Demirci refused to confirm he had even attended the meeting, saying: "I can't talk about this, I can't discuss what was said, you will have to speak to Labour Party head office."

However, the wall of silence was angering residents who believed councillors were "covering up" the events that led to Baby P's death to "save their own necks".

Resident Stephanie Biber was so enraged she marched to the Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Party head offices and stuck a poster to the front window that read: "Sharon Shoesmith you have blood on your hands. Council tax payers of Haringey refuse to pay council tax until Sharon Shoesmith is sacked."

Ms Shoesmith is head of children's services at the council.

Members met amid reports that the council's legal department advised that the child did not need to be taken into care just nine days before he died.

At a meeting of council officials on July 25 last year, a lawyer advised social workers that the evidence that Baby P was being abused was not strong enough to warrant removing the child from his mother, the Sunday Telegraph said.

The Panorama programme, to be broadcast tonight, reveals that it was not just police who disagreed with social services that Baby P should be taken away from his 27-year-old mother, who has since pleaded guilty to causing or allowing his death.

The documentary reveals that senior social worker Sylvia Henry, a team manager at the Tottenham social services office, wanted to place the child into care from as early as December 2006.

Ms Henry had even found a foster home for Baby P, where he was placed for a short period of time.

However, the placement was terminated when a member of Haringey's social service team sent him back to his mother.

Last week, the mother's 32-year-old boyfriend and another man, Jason Owen, 36, were convicted at the Old Bailey of causing or allowing his death.

Baby P's 27-year-old mother had already pleaded guilty to the same charge, which carries a maximum 14-year jail term. All three have been warned they will receive lengthy jail terms when they are sentenced next month.

Neil Williams, a Liberal Democrat councillor on Haringey Council, called for social workers' and police officers' concerns to be taken more seriously.

"I think we need to move towards a system whereby if people are concerned then it escalates to the highest level immediately, and I'm talking about the chief executive of the council, the leader of the council," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Because at the moment we seem to have a system where if people want to create ripples, to raise their concerns, what happens is they throw a stone into the water and it just disappears and we have no trace of any concerns and no action taken."

Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England, said properly trained staff and good assessments were "critical" to ensure that children were taken into care when necessary.

"There is a received wisdom, and for very good reason, that it is much better to keep children in their families as much as possible really," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"What is most important is that practice on the ground is very good amongst all professionals, whether they are social workers, paediatricians, health visitors or anybody else in the children's care system.

"And that we make sure that children are placed at the centre of all decision-making and that that is founded on good assessments, good record-keeping and so on, so that when a child needs to be taken into care that is done in a timely way."

* Panorama: What Happened To Baby P? will be broadcast on BBC One tonight at 8.30pm.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home