A Five News investigation revealed this week that Child Protection Services have failed to properly implement key recommendations created to prevent other children suffering the same fate as murdered eight-year-old, Victoria Climbie. Five News's Catherine Jacob (above), revealed that two-thirds of NHS trusts surveyed admitted to not implementing all of the report's recommendations.
Five News took the findings to Climbie report author Lord Laming, who called on the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to put protecting children back at the top of the political agenda. Here Jacob describes her investigation:
"It's rare that a single news report leads you from Hull, via the House of Lords, to the Ivory Coast, but over three months my investigation into the state of child protection in the NHS cast its net far and wide, writes Catherine Jacob.
Journalistically, it's the most challenging, frustrating and satisfying piece of work I've done. When I had the tip that all was not well within NHS Child Protection, I didn't realise how many hurdles lay ahead in trying to expose the failings. We're a small team at Five News, so to have one of us off-diary indefinitely is a massive commitment.
The first big obstacle: to convince 350 doctors and nurses to take time out of their schedules to answer a survey — to admit recommendations designed to keep children safer hadn't been put in place. Even finding their names and email addresses was a challenge.
Hospital press officers were characteristically less than helpful.
After weeks of phone-bashing, the surveys began to come back — with pretty astounding criticisms. The next challenge: to convince doctors and nurses, already fearful for their jobs, to voice their concerns on camera. A few eventually agreed. After a few months, we had all the UK elements we needed — bar a few crucial statistics: getting information out of the Department for Health was nigh on impossible. But one piece of the jigsaw was still missing — Victoria Climbie's parents — and they were in the Ivory Coast, difficult to track down. I tried to get in touch with the one man in the UK who was still in contact with them. He met me, but wasn't so sure they'd do it. I called and texted him for two weeks until eventually he decided to help us.
Despite the civil war, we met the Climbies in Abidjan. They were hugely disappointed by our findings, but grateful to have the opportunity to remind the British public of the importance of prioritising child protection Our investigation culminated in a 15-minute Five News special, which we had hoped would be followed by an interview with the Health Secretary. However, our interview requests were declined."