Known initially only as Baby P, 17-month-old Peter Connelly died in 2007 after suffering over 50 injuries, including a broken back, over an eight-month period. During that time, he was repeatedly seen by the London Borough of Haringey Children’s Services and National Health Service (NHS) health professionals.
Baby P’s mother, Tracey Connelly, along with her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and his brother, Jason Owen, were all jailed over the poor child’s death after she pleaded guilty to the charge. The three of them were jailed in 2009. Now, Connelly has been released from prison.
Back in March 2022, the Parole Board decided the mother was suitable for release, having rejected bids in 2015, 2017 and 2019. According to the BBC, she was considered to be at “low risk of committing a further offence” and probation officers and prison officials supported the plan.
It should be noted that Connelly was first released on licence in 2013, but was recalled to prison in 2015 for breaching her parole conditions. Furthermore, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who had asked the Parole Board to reconsider its decision to free her, described Connelly as “pure evil”—for a second time.
Understandably, the case of Baby P’s abuse caused shock among the public as well as in Parliament, partly because of the magnitude of the child’s injuries and also because he had lived in the London Borough of Haringey, North London, under the same child welfare authorities that failed seven years earlier in the murder of Victoria Climbié.
At the time, the borough’s child protection services were widely criticised. Following the conviction, three inquiries and a nationwide review of social service care were launched while the Head of Children’s Services at Haringey was removed.
Peter—whose real first name was only revealed in the conclusion of a subsequent trial of Connelly’s boyfriend on a charge of raping a two-year-old—received 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over the final months of his life. A series of reviews found there had been opportunities for officials to save the toddler’s life, if they had acted properly on the countless warning signs.
The trial painted Connelly as a woman who was at best uninterested in her child. Her home was described as disgusting—when police searched it, they found dog mess and human faeces on the floor and rat holes burrowed into the walls. They also reported that the bodies of dead chicks, mice and a dismembered rabbit were strewn around.
Of course, Connelly will be subject to restrictions in terms of where she goes and who she can contact. She has more than 20 licence conditions which include living at a specified address as well as being supervised by probation, wearing an electronic tag, adhering to a curfew and having to disclose her relationships.
Her use of the internet and phone will also be monitored, and she has been told she cannot go to certain places to “avoid contact with victims and to protect children.”