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Three children die from abuse every week, Ofsted chief Christine Gilbert reveals
Three children die from abuse every week according to figures described as the most "horrific ever brought into the public domain".
The deaths were disclosed by Ofsted's chief executive Christine Gilbert, who received a grilling from a House of Commons select committee over the death of Baby P.
For more than an hour, hostile cross-party politicians accused Miss Gilbert of running a watchdog which was too large, out of control and unable to look after the children it was supposed to protect.
MPs repeatedly asked Miss Gilbert why Haringey - the north London council responsible for Baby P's care - was given a glowing assessment by Ofsted three months after the toddler died.
They were appalled to discover that the information gathered for such reports was routinely destroyed after three months.
After the heated exchange, Barry Sheerman, chairman of the children, schools and families committee, said Miss Gilbert had made him even more concerned about Ofsted's ability to assess social care.
"This session made me less confident rather than more confident that there isn't going to be another Haringey waiting," he said.
Mr Sheerman said destroying paper records meant it was impossible to track who inspectors had spoken to at Haringey and who had made potentially dangerous decisions.
"You haven't got any record, this is a great shock to me," he said. "It is like an academic writing an article and destroying all the research material. That's horrific isn't it?"
The select committee was told that more than three children a week - a total of 210 - died in England and Wales as a result of abuse between April 2007 and August 2008.
Of the 21 babies who died from abuse, only two were known to social services.
Baby P died in August last year after suffering more than 50 injuries during eight months of torment at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger.
The figures exceed those quoted by the NSPCC, which claims between one and two children die following cruelty every week in England and Wales.
Mr Sheerman said: "You have brought to us the most horrific figures I've ever seen brought into the public domain."
In Prime Ministers' Questions, select committee member Graham Stuart said the death toll showed there was "something profoundly wrong with our society".
Prime Minister Gordon Brown replied: "If there is any mistake been made, people should be penalised, and if there is anything to change in the law, we should do it immediately."
During a Q&A with the select committee, Miss Gilbert was forced to explain why Ofsted's report last week - commissioned by Children's Secretary Ed Balls - so sharply contradicted its 2007 assessment.
The "devastating" critique listed a catalogue of failures in communications, record-taking and management at Haringey Council.
Miss Gilbert said Ofsted had been given the wrong information by the local authority in 2007 and that the annual performance assessment (APA) had only been paper-based.
She claimed Haringey Council - which missed Baby P's despite more than 60 visits from care professionals - was the "exception", but has written to all council chief executives for reassurance that this year's APAs were correct.
After repeated questioning, Miss Gilbert wearily denied that Ofsted's remit - which as of April last year extended to colleges and children's services as well as schools - was "too much".
She said Ofsted was introducing a new way of inspecting local authorities with intensive assessments every three years and unannounced checks every year.
Ofsted is considering introducing a "whistle-blower hotline" for social workers to raise any "serious concerns" they have about child safety.
The Healthcare Commission has launched an investigation after it emerged that all four NHS trusts involved in Baby P had all declared themselves compliant with Government standards on child protection.
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