Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lest we forget

My post on Baby P was slightly sketchy, so for my own reference as much as anything else, here is a summation of the facts surrounding the case, from Barry Beelzebub.
You would think that there would be so many levels of Turkey Army bureaucracy infesting our public services that mistakes would almost be impossible to make; that somewhere in the warren-like system, someone, somewhere would inevitably say “Hang on a minute—this isn’t right”.

After this week’s events involving Haringey Council at the Old Bailey, the answer has to be clearly not—although I suspect, with its £100 million a year budget, it’s through utter ineptitude rather than any laughable notion of under-staffing.

The case of 17-month-old Baby P, who despite being on the council’s at risk register, despite being seen 60 times by social workers in just eight months (that’s once every three days), and despite being the subject of two police investigations, was left to die in agony in a blood-stained cot with a broken back and multiple injuries after being tortured for months by his parents almost beggars belief. It has made me very sad and very, very angry. I actually couldn’t bring myself to read the long list of injuries published in the newspapers. The detail of how they were inflicted—“he was punched so hard in the mouth he swallowed a bottom tooth”—makes me feel faint.

And that’s where the anger overcomes the terrible sorrow, because Haringey Council has previous for this sort of thing, being the same social services department that was to blame for the death of little Victoria Climbie eight years ago. You would think that if any public authority had learned how to protect its children, it would be this one. But no.

We have the social worker who visited repeatedly and yet failed to spot the injuries caused by months of torture and, just four days before his death, was fooled by the boy’s mother smearing chocolate and nappy cream over his wounds.

We have the team leader who agreed that the baby should continually be returned to his home, despite two police investigations and the warnings of hospital staff.

We have the ‘chair’ of something called the Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board who has shifted the blame quicker than an incontinent puppy, claiming that “The council didn’t kill Baby P; his parents did.”

And we have the doctor, the paediatrician who examined Baby P two days before his death and failed to spot that he was paralysed with a broken spine and also had several broken ribs and multiple other injuries. (Read that sentence back again and consider what it means. I bet you’re shaking your head, aren’t you?) She blamed this gross negligence on being unable to carry out a full examination because Baby P was “miserable and cranky”. Yes, I bet he was.

Still, heads will roll, won’t they? The people who allowed this horrific abuse to continue unabated will be sacked, won’t they?

Err ... no. At the time of writing, three written warnings have been issued and it has been made very clear that no-one will lose their job and no-one will be resigning. (I suspect that may have changed by the time you read this.)

And then, to top it off, we have that aforementioned ‘chair’ turning up on the TV news telling us, in that patronising tone the Guardian-reading classes use when they’re talking down to the rest of us, that “Lessons will be learned”.

I tell you what. I never want to hear a public servant using the phrase “Lessons will be learned” ever again. Because they’re clearly not, are they?

The sad thing is that we have to get to a point where a small child has been deprived of what was, admittedly, a short, miserable life before they will even say "lessons will be learned", let alone act.

UPDATE: I think that it's worth flagging up this excellent comment by Ian B.
It's kind of surreal sitting here defending social workers and doctors, but here I go...

There's something of a confusion between the magnitude of an error and the magnitude of its consequences. For instance; a person nods off at the wheel and bumps their car into a tree, causing a bit of damage and a fright. Another person nods of at the wheel, the car goes down an embankment and onto a railway line and there is a massive train crash with horrendous loss of life. Each made the same mistake, but the consequences are orders of magnitude different. Did the second person commit a greater crime than the first? They both did exactly the same thing.

Doctors and social workers, the latter in partcular, work in a continual grey area. Their entire working lives are based upon exercising judgement. They are trying to find a middle ground between negligence and over-zealousness which is not, and cannot by any means, be defined objectively. It is thus practically impossible for them to "get it right" because there is no right to get it. Just opinion. That's why there is never going to be perfect child protection, so you have to decide whether you'd prefer innocent parents be persecuted by the over-zealous, or evil parents get away with it. You can't have your ideal. It doesn't exist. It is the same as asking for a court system that never frees the guilty or convicts the innocent. It can't be done. All you can do is decide whether you think it better to protect the innocent knowing some of the guilty will go free, or convict the guilty knowing some innocents will suffer. (Case in point, English common law traditionally has been based on the first premise).

So, we can roll the heads of these doctors and social workers, but it isn't going to really fix anything. There are doctors up and down the country making duff diagnoses every day, some of them leading to death or serious permannent damage. There are others prescribing treatments that are foolish and unnecessary (the manias for lowering cholesterol and salt intake, for instance). Medicine is inherently blurry and inexact. And there are social workers making bad judgements every day too- persecuting the harmless and neglecting the dangerous. It's inherent to the job.

So, we can decide to protect innocent parents from persecution and accept the occasional Baby P, or we can rigorously monitor children, snatch them away pre-emptively, and leave the bereft parents to cry alone in the night. And still get the occasional Baby P anyway. Because it's not science. It's judgement, by flawed human beings. It would be nice to do better than that, but we can't.

Your humble Devil, of course, thinks it "better to protect the innocent knowing some of the guilty will go free" although many statists would take the view that it is better to "convict the guilty knowing some innocents will suffer". Except, of course, that many statist, almost by definition, do not think that the innocents will suffer because the state is omniscient (although I've never understood why).

However, given the system that we currently have, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to flag up and rail against such egregious failings as we have in this instance simply so that the people involved might act differently the next time that this happens.

The case of Baby P highlights persistent and appalling failures of multiple agents—doctors, social workers, police and managers—not simply the misjudgement of one person. We might say that such things will occasionally happen—this case has caused so much outrage simply because it is so rare—but if one more innocent life is saved because, say, the next doctor examines the baby properly despite the child being "miserable and cranky", then I cannot see how that would be a bad thing.

UPDATE 2: the News of the World story is just appalling. It's the deliberate attempt to break the boy's spirit that I find particularly distasteful.
“And he lanced off the tops of the tot’s fingers with a Stanley knife like you would a boil. He said it made it easier for him to then use the pliers to grip onto the fingernails and rip them off. It makes me shudder.

“He made Baby P kneel in front of him, with blood oozing from the ends of his fingers, and hold out his hands for more punishment.

As I have said, I think that we will find that the main perpetrator will be spending his life in Broadmoor rather than Belmarsh. Although he should still be beaten to a pulp.

49 comments:

Ian B said...

All this wailing and rending of clothes in an orgy of community coming together in anger is all very well, but what do you actually want done? I mean look, it's a horrible case. Horrible things have happened throughout history, and will happen again, for the rest of history. Cunning evil people will do evil things and won't be stopped in time. And then everybody will leap about yelling that Something Must Be Done.

What is this Something That Must Be Done? Maybe we should ban children living in dwellings with collectors of nazi memorabilia. Or maybe we should realise that doctors fuck up all the time and have some kind of requirement for every doctor's action to be triple checked by three other doctors, a committe of worthy citizens and a mob of sweary bloggers with Righteousness On Their Side. Maybe we should just stop the residuum being allowed to breed- apparently they're already doing that with compulsory sterilisation injections, that'll get rid of some useless eaters, won't it?

What exactly does the "I hate the nanny state except in this case when I want more nanny" lobby actually demand?

Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Ian B
What should be done? Well, that doctor should lose her right to practise medicine. The team leader who ignored the police investigations and hospital staff should not only be sacked, but should never work in such a position of authority again. And the social worker too should be sacked. There are plenty of other jobs she can do. She clearly isn't very talented at this one.

Or perhaps you would like to take your own children to see this doctor? Would you believe anything she says?

People, whether they work in the private or public sectors should be held to account. When they are not held responsible for their actions in the public sector, it makes fools of the rest of us.

Future children should be protected from such incompetence. These aren't small mistakes. They are MASSIVE.

If these people had any sense of dignity and self-worth, they would have resigned. The fact that they haven't gives us all the more cause to worry.

woman on a raft said...

Well said, Snuffy.

Ian B said...

It's kind of surreal sitting here defending social workers and doctors, but here I go...

There's something of a confusion between the magnitude of an error and the magnitude of its consequences. For instance; a person nods off at the wheel and bumps their car into a tree, causing a bit of damage and a fright. Another person nods of at the wheel, the car goes down an embankment and onto a railway line and there is a massive train crash with horrendous loss of life. Each made the same mistake, but the consequences are orders of magnitude different. Did the second person commit a greater crime than the first? They both did exactly the same thing.

Doctors and social workers, the latter in partcular, work in a continual grey area. Their entire working lives are based upon exercising judgement. They are trying to find a middle ground between negligence and over-zealousness which is not, and cannot by any means, be defined objectively. It is thus practically impossible for them to "get it right" because there is no right to get it. Just opinion. That's why there is never going to be perfect child protection, so you have to decide whether you'd prefer innocent parents be persecuted by the over-zealous, or evil parents get away with it. You can't have your ideal. It doesn't exist. It is the same as asking for a court system that never frees the guilty or convicts the innocent. It can't be done. All you can do is decide whether you think it better to protect the innocent knowing some of the guilty will go free, or convict the guilty knowing some innocents will suffer. (Case in point, English common law traditionally has been based on the first premise).

So, we can roll the heads of these doctors and social workers, but it isn't going to really fix anything. There are doctors up and down the country making duff diagnoses every day, some of them leading to death or serious permannent damage. There are others prescribing treatments that are foolish and unnecessary (the manias for lowering cholesterol and salt intake, for instance). Medicine is inherently blurry and inexact. And there are social workers making bad judgements every day too- persecuting the harmless and neglecting the dangerous. It's inherent to the job.

So, we can decide to protect innocent parents from persecution and accept the occasional Baby P, or we can rigorously monitor children, snatch them away pre-emptively, and leave the bereft parents to cry alone in the night. And still get the occasional Baby P anyway. Because it's not science. It's judgement, by flawed human beings. It would be nice to do better than that, but we can't.

Cicero said...

There are many words and phrases being used such as 'failure', 'inability to follow procedures' etc.

The word I have not heard used often enough is 'crime'. At the heart of this case is an evil crime that our justice system will completely fail to punish, thanks to successive supine governments and EU directives.

I am not suggesting the death penalty would bring back Baby P or necessarily prevent such horrors in future. But without the ultimate sanction, society will never be able to fully come to terms with the evil in its midst.

Anonymous said...

Ian B's comment is only quite good. I am a doctor and, of course, I've made and will continue to make mistakes. But and it's a big BUT I have not made mistakes of the magnitude of failing to spot a broken back, or (and some would say this is even more serious for a doctor) failing to examine a patient properly for whatever reason.

I know little about social work, but am prepared to believe such situations occur there, too.

It is the magnitude of the error that varies in these real life cases, not the same as Ian B's examples of differing results arising from the same error.

whoops said...

I drive a forklift for a living. if I'm responsible for a serious incident, even one where nobody is actually injured, i'm dismissed. instantly. i accept this, it goes with the job. driving a fork lift is not an exact science, it requires judgement and common sense. anybody see wherei'm going with this?

Martin Meenagh said...

How about the 'West Midlands Serious Crime Squad' approach? A Secretary of State could have the power to transfer the department's responsibilities and staff to a new department, and staff contracts could be altered so that they understood that they might be so transferred. Negligence on this level could be redefined as a failure in duty, and external investigations from an outside panel could lead to dismissal.

It's not much. The whole business of using the state as a parent because the economy and policy have destroyed the idea of a family means that very little will work. Laws and rules are part of a culture. I am sick of just doing nothing, though.

Perhaps an attempt could also be made to get rid of around a third of all councillors, and to review how many support staff a council actually needed in these non-job 'jobs' that the guardian is regularly stuffed with, so that people could actually be hired and allowed to get on with child protection?

Ian B said...

I didn't say that those who failed shouldn't suffer the consequences. I've been in responsible jobs with potential life/death consequences and was always aware that serious errors result in serious punishments.

I was talking about the fact that you can't prevent errors no matter how much you try, which is why I gave the courts example. You can't perfect the system. You have to accept that whatever you do, there are going to be errors. They might be genuinely unforeseeable errors, they might be gross incompetence, but they will happen, whatever you do with the structure of the system, because the system comprises millions of decisions by thousands of individual, flawed human beings. Once the error has occurred you can punish those responsible, but that isn't going to save you from the next error. These people have already made their Big Mistake. It's somebody else's turn next time.

Can anyone here think of a way to construct a legal system that will never punish the innocent nor allow the guilty to escape punishment, ever? It's the same problem. Find the answer to that one, you've got the answer to the child protection one. Nobody has actually solved that problem in all of human history. But don't let that put anyone off believing that perfection can be attained. It's always just around the corner, right after the next round of reform and lesson learning.

whoops said...

I would suggest that allowing the same people to continue in their roles after they've made their (60) Big Mistake(s) would not encourage others to execute their duties with due care and attention.

archduke said...

More details have been published by the News of the World.

a word of warning - you will need a strong stomach for this. and maybe a shot of whiskey or two before reading.

you're gonna need it.

Ian B said...

Seems a bit rich for somebody who actually lived, apparently of their own free will, in the flea infested house with shit all over the walls, watching this going on day after day, to start pointing at the bloody hands of social services. The social workers are, as I said, undeniably guilty of the most disastrous ineptitude and clearly deserve to face the consequences of that, but what right precisely does our "source" have to feel nobler than they? She went for a walk with the abuser and the child with a snapped spine? I mean, jesus fucking H.

JuliaM said...

"Seems a bit rich for somebody who actually lived, apparently of their own free will, in the flea infested house with shit all over the walls, watching this going on day after day, to start pointing at the bloody hands of social services."

The social services who visited many times and presumably weren't unduly worried by the flea infested house with shit all over the walls...?

Shaun said...

The only lessons that will be learned, as Margaret Hodge can attest from her time presiding over the paedophile banquet also known as Islington Council's Social Services department in the 80s is don't get caught. And if you do get caught covering up for paedos and defending them on equal-ops grounds ("You're only persecuting that kiddy fiddler because they're gay"), just blame a deputy and take up a cabinet role...

Seriously. Islington 'The people's republic' Council circa the 1980s holds all sorts of unexplored paedo rings only because Bliar, Straw and others passed through there and people like Hodge came out of there, its not discussed. My father (!) was in the Labour party in that branch at the time and a mate's mom was Mayor in the 1990s and I assure you it was common knowledge. There was even, I believe, transit of personnel to/from Jersey tho I can't swear to that...

Ian B said...

Haut de la Garenne has just proven itself to be another Satanic Ritual Abuse panic. Quelle surprise.

Old Holborn said...

cicero

Bingo

Until there is a deterent, there will be the crime.

Stephen Barker knew full well that whatever actions he took, he would never be forced to take the consequences. He'd already tortured his grandmother.

I don't advocate the death penalty until we have the power to bring back the dead wrongly executed.

I do however believe that when the criminal begs for death, as in the case of Ian Bradey, then justice is being done. His victims did the same.

Tracey Connelly, Stephen and Jason Barker will be free in seven years, given new identities, reolocated, re -educated, rehabilitated. They will be financed to start new lives, they will be hidden from us, the public and they will be forgiven, by the system at least for their crimes. The Bulger killers prove this.

In the meantime, Peter Connelly will still remain dead, tortured to death by the only people who should have cared for him.

Until our society reimposes boundaries, expect morons to wander around wherever they please, doing whatever they please.

Ian B said...

The social services who visited many times and presumably weren't unduly worried by the flea infested house with shit all over the walls...?

Indeed. I can't help but suspect that the News Of The World are flinging an egg or two into the pudding.

woman on a raft said...

Haut de la Garenne has shown long-term abuse by those working for the Jersey Government. The victim statements are being cross-referenced. They were persuaded to step forward because they believed that there was a good chance them finally being believed. The cellar may not be the scene the victims refer to, but since the island is riddled with ex-Nazi bunkers from the war, there is no shortage of deep dark places.

The Orkney debacle primarily illustrated system abuse in another guise; Janet Chisholm and other social workers (but not, noticably the local one who was smartly removed for talking sense) were convinced that ritual abuse was taking place. They then felt justified in incarcerating the children and bullying them in to making incriminating statements. Abuse did happen - but it was by the social workers who were supposed to be protecting the children.

The NoW story primarily cites "The 15-year-old source" which means she too was entitled to the protection of the social services, but they couldn't be bothered to ask a teenager if there was any particular reason for her living up to her ankles in shit. It might have been intimidation by a sex offender and fuck-witted chavery rather than free will. Even if it was free will, it still doesn't invalidate her claims about the state of the house and the way the social workers failed to take any action.

False accusations of abuse have serious consequences for the children about whom they are made; for instance the daughter of Nevres Kemal, who was targetted as a way of intimidating her mother. The girl will have had several wonderful years watching her mother being crucified and wondering if they were going to try to shove her in to the gentle care of Haringey. Failure to notice abuse, is, as we have seen, fatal. It isn't a choice between carers and children; the child requires the social workers to get it right because if they get it wrong the child suffers either way.

What is so difficult to understand about this? Both baby P and Kemal's daughter were entitled to swift, courteous and thorough investigations on their behalf, with action being taken on objective evidence if there was any. There was masses of objective evidence about baby P and very little about Kemal's daughter, who was fortunately old enough to withstand the inquisition.

In the case of P they should have acted earlier, in the case of K they should have smartly apologised instead of having to be dragged through tribunals and appeals. If they has spent more energy protecting P and less persecuting Kemal, that would have been the way to go.

Snuffy was right (as she so often is) that the best thing for them to do is resign, which would at least show some glimmer of comprehension at the depth of their failure. The fact that they haven't shows how abjectly unfit they are for purpose.

Ian B said...

The cellar may not be the scene the victims refer to, but since the island is riddled with ex-Nazi bunkers from the war, there is no shortage of deep dark places.

Oh for heaven's sake, it's a satanic panic (sans Satan); it's had that profile for months. Once a tale starts into the children shackled in dungeons stuff, you can bet your life savings on it being a ritual abuse panic.

Were some children abused? Almost certainly, because you can problem find sexual abuse in any long-term childcare facility. Were there harsh punishments and a harsh regime? Yes, because that was considered character building in times past. Were children punished in ways now unacceptable? Sure, because again that was once the norm.

But once it's the organised cultic rings with dark ritual places, shackles and bodies in pits, reach for the salt because you're going to need a few pinches of it. And then as with Bryn Estyn, the people who were really abused get trampled underfoot by the stampede of liars hoping for a slice of the compensation pie.

the a&e charge nurse said...

If we take the "flea infestation and shit" formula I suspect many more families would come to the attention of social workers, not to mention quite a few solitary oldies too ?

Old Holborn has rather touched a nerve when he alludes to the kings ransom that will be required [from the public purse] to meet the various needs of the three offenders once they have completed their porridge in 6 or 7 years time, say.

Another dreadful thought crossed my mind and it was something like...... at least the death of the child will prevent him from robbing houses [or much worse] in the future - I do not feel proud about this type of nihilism but sadly some individuals are irredeemable, and it is often those that have endured horrible abuse during their vital formative years ?

Disciplining, or even sacking a few workers will not expunge the rest of us from the dangerous psychopaths who form part of the fabric of our every day life, or tomorrows outrage.

The only thing to cheer me up was the faux solemnity and portentous reports in the quality newspapers...... what a bunch of middle class phonies some journalists are ?

haddock said...

The Times mentions a sister to Peter, also on the at risk register.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5162711.ece
I don't want to know what she has suffered.
Reading various sources, there were 3 dogs in the house.... mix that with a slatternly female and yes, you will have shit covered floors and walls. Is it coincidence that a 15yo is giving the inside information and there is mention of a 15yo 'girlfriend'

Old Holborn said...

A&E

You may be horribly right

adwelly said...

The mother, boyfriend, and lodger have all been convicted of 'causing or allowing the death of a child'. Haringey council has also allowed the death of a child. Prosecution of one or two high officials perhaps ?

Alan Douglas said...

I agree with much of what Ian B says, but need to ask if the systems used by the "caring" services are all that they should be ? I accept that "mistakes will be made", but that is the routine, whereas this case was far from routine.

The "multi-agency" approach will mean several (how many?) different people all being involved.

This will require regular "case meetings", which I would surmise will be hours long (how often and how long?), thus reducing the effective time these carers can spend out and about.

Also, it will mean no SPECIFIC individual is actually responsible, no specific head can roll after a goof.

Also, I would be amazed if the "ethos" of the caring agencies might not be placing completely wrong emphasis on importances. Let's say they tolerated the shit-smeared walls because THESE ADULTS DID NOT SMOKE, for instance. Must not be judgemental - another ethos matter.

Surely some basic reorganisation of how carers work must now be done, probably nationwide ? Each case should have a specific LEAD person, who knows that the total result will be on their head.

I suspect also that a lot fewer "agencies" should be used, so the command lines and info lines are much more direct.

And whistle-blowing should be encouraged, rather than punished, as it has been in this case. Who do these bastards think they are SERVING ? Clearly themselves and their precious system.

Please note I have NO direct experience of social work or caring, just business experience and some of networks and how they (don't) work.

Alan Douglas

Rob said...

What precisely do you have to do to get fired in Haringey? Obviously given this case the bar is exceedingly high. Anyone fancy taking a guess?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Some time ago, the government was calling for yet another super database, detailing, among other things, medical histories of children. Its broader purpose was to collate information across agencies.

The move was criticized in a study:
"Children's Databases: Safety and Privacy".(2006)

http://www.fipr.org/childrens_databases.pdf

The study warned that the system will intrude into family life in violation of data protection and human rights law.

Reported in the Register of November 2006, Dr Eileen Munro, of the London School of Economics said: "When dealing with child abuse, we do need to override privacy. But the new policy extends this level of intrusion into families that are not even suspected of abusing their children, and to all concerns about children's development. It will also over-stretch scarce resources, damage parents' confidence and divert services from focusing on real cases of abuse.

All good points, but it fudged the issue. Infested with political correctness, the final report could not bring itself to recommend targeted resources, citing "the limits of predictive research". In other words, this report, produced by the great and good, could not condone the setting up of a database that would point up the difference between a potentially law-abiding citizen and a scumbag.

With this kind of thinking flying around, is it surprising that the fairly obvious danger signs were missed?

littlexbanker said...

In Feb 2002, I wrote (rather naively, probably) to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry, in answer to the following open question raised by the Inquiry:

Is it possible to create a virtual child protection agency through the improved use of modern information technology?

I offered the following:

"As I have never had any connection with Social Services, police, NHS etc. and therefore have an open mind on the various issues involved, I would, being a parent, offer the following suggestion.

As a banker, I spent most of my working life endeavouring to assess and control risk, and there may be some relevant cross-over between those aims and your question above.

Much adverse financial risk is now managed through "credit scoring" technology. The idea is simple; a number of factors (e.g. length of time in business/occupation, length of time at established address etc.) are given various numerical weightings. If a loan application reaches the required total, the loan is granted; if not, the given information is checked and if still below the required total the loan is declined. The weightings can of course be fine-tuned if projected outcomes start to stray from actual outcomes.

It seems that the Victoria Climbié Inquiry flagged up the problem of various authorities believing that another authority would pick up the problem (through pressure of work, wishful thinking etc. A centralised risk-scoring database might address this type of difficulty by creating a reporting system open to all relevant authorities. For example, a doctor/health worker would notice unattributable bruising on a child. They would log a score (e.g. from 1-5) by severity, and key in a reason for concern (e.g. unsatisfactory explanation, second visit, intuition, etc.). A police officer might notice something about a child (e.g. malnutrition, anxiety etc.) whilst visiting the parent/carer about some unrelated offence. They would also log a score by severity and key in a reason.

There would be no need for hugely complicated and expensive intranet sites, because each authority would simply access a dedicated internet site via any available computer, say www.child999.com, which would be the nationally known website for child protection.

This system would tend to be self-policing, because any official from an authority not entering reasonable suspicions would subsequently be shown, had they come across the child and not reported, to have been failing in their duty to report, and liable to appropriate sanctions.

Although this might lead to unnecessary reporting, the database scoring system could be adjusted to cope with multiple low-scoring reports, only flagging up when individual scores began to increase.

Conclusion
There will always be some unforeseen cases of severe child abuse, and obviously there are difficulties concerning issues of identification, confidentiality, legal responsibilities and boundaries etc. What can be done, however, is to focus down empirically on the more serious problems, concentrating resources by a collective observation of where they are required."

Nearly seven years on, information technology has improved hugely (even if care of data storage hasn't) and I wonder if the idea has any legs at all?

If you think not, feel free to go off topic and have a go at bankers instead, who have done their fair share to ensure poor and inadequate people will become even more so.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

well said, littleexbanker. Even though you are sperm of the devil I shall commend you.

Why not credit score? Because, as I said above, it would "unfairly" target scumbags. As Danny, the dealer would say, "That is an unfortunate political decision".

Oswald Bastable said...

“The social worker didn’t spot a thing. The mum couldn’t believe her luck when she just had a quick look at P in his buggy and said, ‘Hello little fella!’ That was it. "He was pushed into the kitchen. Door slammed shut. That was the last time he was seen alive by anyone outside the house.

“The heartbreaking thing is Baby P smiled at the woman. Sitting in that buggy with his back broken, eight broken ribs, fingernails missing, toenail missing and a nappy full of excrement and he still managed a smile. "

I am unable to conceive a torment great enough for all those responsible...

JuliaM said...

"Let's say they tolerated the shit-smeared walls because THESE ADULTS DID NOT SMOKE, for instance."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the paramedics that attended the cal reported that this creature asked them to wait so she could find here cigarettes....

"What precisely do you have to do to get fired in Haringey? "

Whistleblowing would certainly do it. And probably being in the BNP...

"I am unable to conceive a torment great enough for all those responsible..."

I thought so at first. But my imagination gets better and beter with each new revelation of cruelty or incompetene.

insomniac said...

Ian B, no one is asking the impossible. It would simply be a good start if it were mandatory for known violent psychopaths, hopeless drug addicts and career alcoholics to be prevented from having the care of children. That alone would have saved Peter Connelly.

Of course it will be impossible to prevent any child ever being killed by someone who has never come to the attention of the child protection authorities. But this is not an instance of unforeseeable tragedy; the danger to this child was known, monitored and, ultimately and unforgiveably, ignored.

Do they never learn? Victoria Climbie died because Equalities lunacy enabled caseworkers to make excuses for the vicious behaviour of the woman who murdered her. The Orkney scandal was yet another case of social-worker dogma overriding the evidence of their own senses; having got a certain idea into their heads, the fact that the children concerned were obviously healthy, happy and unharmed meant nothing. Peter Connelly died almost under the gaze of the local authority because their priority was to get him off the at risk register and not to face the fact that his mother was unfit to be trusted with his care.

The whole profession needs to be reformed. I would suggest that all social workers in the field of child protection should have to be qualified as childrens' nurses or teachers or have been police officers. The half-trained box-tickers employed at present should be sacked. They will be no loss.

The Happy Rampager said...

@ woman on a raft -

Re Kemal - you do realise that the only reason she was investigated was as retaliation for having been a whistleblower, right? The investigation was ENTIRELY unnecessary.

The Penguin said...

Sack the lot of them except perhaps Sylvia Henry. That includes the buck-passing ministers and their senior civil servants. No compensation, and they lose their pensions. A big enough message to encourage all others working in child protection to up their game.

Put Kemal in charge of Haringey's SS in Shoesmith's place.

xelent said...

I have to agree with Ian on this one. This case highlights a disturbing past time by some very sick and maladjusted people. But the fact still remains that we are at a loss to stop anyone doing this.

As for govt institutions making the correct assumption, well they invariably dont. They usually fuck things up, whatever they do. I tend to find the shameless one's (GB)comments most chilling, when he tells us that he will do everything in his power to make sure this never happens again.

The great parent of govt will no doubt be giving its children (us) a good beating sometime soon as a good counter measure. But in reality, like everything govt does it will have no effect on the corrupt and be a complete hinderence to the virtuous..

As if this govt needed anymore excuses to be totalitarian? This story as sad and wretched as it is will certainly add some extra armour to govt interference..

woman on a raft said...

Almost certainly, because you can problem find sexual abuse in any long-term childcare facility.

Indeed you can - that's why authories should conduct a swift, thorough and courteous investigation when allegations are made. The people making the accusations are entitled to it, the people accused are entitled to it. The victims, if any, are entitled to their day in court, the accused, if there is no evidence against them, are entitled to be robustly cleared in public.

When Simon Bellwood the social worker - an off-islander - raised the issue of current bad practices, he was fobbed off, then accused of being crazy, then paid off and gagged. Presumably he can count himself lucky that they didn't trump up an accusation of child abuse against him, as with Kemal in Haringey. He probably shouldn't have accepted the money, but then he went to Senator Syvret who broke the story. As soon as Syvret went public, victims of historic abuse stepped forward because in the internet age, they found out about it. They had kept quiet because up till now, most of them thought it was just them. Some of those were not be victims judged by the standard of the times, but the thing to do was to take the statements and make the investigations.

Syvret was promptly accused of being mad. He was under stress, but that should not have been used to discredit him. Episodes such as shutting off his microphone when he was making his address to the States - as he was constitutionally entitled to do - served to confirm that the States Authorities were covering something up.

Jersey has a quasi-feudal political structure with little separation of powers. It is a dynastic enclave which produces an admirable god-fearing 1950s-type society which floats on a bubble of wealth. However, that political structure also provides a screen for corruption as there is an incentive to cover-up for friends and relatives, and discredit complainants rather than to deal with what they are alleging, in order to protect the family name. Not such an unusual reaction in social services departments, apparently.

Family name matters on Jersey; they regard William of Normandy as an arriviste and are grappling with the knowledge that not every body behaved wonderfully during the war. The physical fact remains; if you fancied a spot of abuse unhindered, the thing to do would be to take some boys for a short walk and visit some old fortifications. After the war there was no shortage of bunkers with handy holding cells. Fritzl would admire the quality of the concrete.

Anonymous said...

DK

The News of the world is not always a reliable source:

Re- Haute de la Garenne:

“A SHOCK secret police report into the Jersey House of Hell children's home reveals youngsters there WERE murdered then BURNED in a furnace to COVER UP the atrocities.
It's feared island authorities may try to hush up the dossier on Haut de la Garenne orphanage but a source told us: "Officers on this case are in NO DOUBT what went on."
Innocent children WERE raped, murdered and their bodies then BURNT in a FURNACE at the Jersey House of Horrors, says a top-secret police report into the scandal.
A News of the World investigation reveals cops have shocking new evidence of how the killings were COVERED UP at the Haut de la Garenne care home.”


And:

“And we can reveal that among more than 100 bone fragments is a TIBIA from a child's leg and what police believe is an "intact" ADENOID bone from the ear of an infant.”

“These were all retrieved from a fingertip search of the four cellars in the Home's EAST WING.”

“Forensic teams also found STRANDS OF NYLON which they have concluded came from the head of a broom.”

“And it is there, within the hidden torture chambers just inches below, that the bones, a pair of shackles and children's clothing were found.”

Anonymous said...

Wasn't that 60 visits in total by all professionals - e.g., health visitors? Anyway, they could have visited a thousand times and it wouldn't have made any difference. The number of visits makes very little difference beyond ticking the box, making social wrokers and their managers feel something is being done, and giving the inspectors something to measure next time they're in town. What matters is the quality of the service, i.e., that the professionals involved have the requisite skills, knowledge and experience to work with families where there is abuse. In fact, I seriously doubt that many social workers have the requisite skills, etc. because local authorities can't keep hold of the fuckers long enough for them to get to that stage.

James Higham said...

Your humble Devil, of course, thinks it "better to protect the innocent knowing some of the guilty will go free" although many statists would take the view that it is better to "convict the guilty knowing some innocents will suffer".

Probably right, this, DK.

Anonymous said...

This neatly sums up the legal threshold for taking a child into care and is a direct quote from the case Re L (Care: Threshold Criteria) [2007] 1 FLR 2050:

'The best person to bring up a child is the natural parent. It matters not whether the parent is wise or foolish, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, provided the child's moral and physical health are not in danger. Public authorities cannot improve on nature.'

...It follows inexorably from that, that society must be willing to tolerate very diverse standards of parenting, including the eccentric, the barely adequate and the inconsistent. It follows too that children will inevitably have both very different experiences of parenting and very unequal consequences flowing from it. It means that some children will experience disadvantage and harm, while others flourish in atmospheres of loving security and emotional stability. These are the consequences of our fallible humanity and it is not the provenance of the state to spare children all the consequences of defective parenting."

This tells me two things. Firstly, that Peter Connelly's case met the threshold for a care order and, secondly, what a massive grey area it all is. I bet if you went outside and randomly polled a hundred people you would get a hundred different definitions of 'moral and physical health' and 'danger'. Why the fuck would anybody want to be a social worker.

Dave said...

Simple solution to all this
Licence all Social workers.

Solicitors are licenced. They screw up- they get struck off
Doctors are licenced, They screw up- they get struck off.

So why not Health and Social services professionals?

Probable outcome? The useless ones won't do anything for fear of losing their licence. They can then be sacked the fucking useless fucking fuckers

The Penguin said...

They are licenced, they have to be members of a professional body, forget the name. This body claims to be investigating the social workers in this case.

However, I have very little faith in the outcome, these are the same wankers who failed to stand up for the rights of the whistleblower, Nevres Kemal, when Haringey tried to destroy her by false allegations of child abuse.

And it doesn't cover the "management" such as the charmless and unapologetic Shoesmith.

The Penguin
Penguinus Rantingmakesmefeelbetter

insomniac said...

anonymous 2.29 quotes:

"The best person to bring up a child is the natural parent. It matters not whether the parent is wise or foolish, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, provided the child's moral and physical health are not in danger. Public authorities cannot improve on nature.'

...It follows inexorably from that, that society must be willing to tolerate very diverse standards of parenting, including the eccentric, the barely adequate and the inconsistent."


But this child's moral and physical health plainly were, and were officially recognised as being, in danger. This was not, to any person in their right mind, a grey area. "Eccentric" does not include insane. "Barely adequate" does not include brutally violent and deliberately cruel. "Inconsistent" does not cover bone idle, heartless and cretinous. There was ample evidence justifying the rescue of this little boy from the hellhole his dungheap of a mother created for him, but the local apparatchiks employed to protect him just didn't have the guts to face up to it. Too much like work, I suppose.

I hope his image haunts them for the rest of their lives.

Paul said...

The whole point of the "scare tactics" in Jersey was to get complaints ; the Police are well aware that with enough publicity, people will come forward and tell lies for money. The Police make no effort to check their lies, and in fact actively encourage it.

JT said...

Anger is understandable, we want to blame someone.

An insider tells me that councils are placed under intolerable pressure - underfunded, threats of physical violence and people just don't want the job.

To cap it all off, central government charges the council £4,500 each time a council takes a child into care.

Imagine that. Central government incentivises councils to leave at risk children, well, at risk.

Roger Thornhill said...

Dave: "So why not Health and Social services professionals?"


If they have the right to intervene, then they should be liable to be struck off if they screw up big time.

Anonymous said...

insomniac said:

'"Eccentric" does not include insane.'

Actually, sometimes it can.

"Barely adequate" does not include brutally violent and deliberately cruel.'

You're right, it doesn't, but they didn't notice it was brutally violent and deliberately cruel. They should have. That was the problem.

'"Inconsistent" does not cover bone idle, heartless and cretinous.'

Once again, yes it can.

I'm a bit of a veteran in terms of family law proceedings and I can assure you that my interpretation is correct, parents are allowed to fuck their children up.
My point about it being a 'grey area' was not specifically about the case of Baby P, in fact, I commented that the case clearly met the threshold for an order. However, I made a general point about the legal threshold and child protection being a grey area and believe me, it really is. If it wasn't, then there probably wouldn't be so much disagreement about it. How often do you hear about children being removed too soon? If it was all so black and white then I doubt you would hear it as often as you do.

SEBHFUAR said...

I'm waiting for the day - and it can't be soon now - that the scum referred to as the "parents" attempt to sue Haringey council for their chronic failure in stopping them killing their child.


This is not posted in jest.

The hand-wringing of the council about "procedures being followed" and their inability to see what was happening in front of them has been enough cause for multi-million compensation payouts in the past - why is this any different.


Oh. If anyone is starting a charitable fund, to provide extra treats for the lags that beat this scum to a pulp, please count me in.


SEBHFUAR.

Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Ian B
Who is feeling more noble than these people? Certainly not me. I just believe I am more competent. But should I ever prove myself to be less than competent, I can assure you, there would be no need to fire me. I would simply resign out of shame.

You say that these people should face consequences, but then you also say that doctors make these kinds of mistakes all of the time. Really? Do they? They miss broken backs? How extraordinary.

If they do, then fire the lot of them I say. If a doctor is unable to spot a broken back, then he is not fit to be a doctor. And we should not feel unable to say so.

We should have standards. Of course the system will not be perfect. But that does not mean that we should not strive for it to be so.

To speak and think as you do, is to rid us of all dignity. It makes me very sad indeed.

RAW said...

What gets to me is that yes, there was a proper sending off with 150 family members. 150 members of a family who didnt see what was going on but now so called mourn the death with so called tears in there eyes. I hate the social workers for the lack of support they gave, i hate the doctors even more for not doing there job properly and noticeing the injuries, but what really gets my goat, so to speak is this scum bag family, expecially the father (the tortured father so called), who saw his son nearly every weekend and missed the injuries. I as a father am so contimplating finding this cunt and sorting him out, fuck the consiquences, i know we can all get in trouble for our so called freedom of speech but if this is left without any answers or changes then i for one will push this goverment into doing something. I am as decent as they come but will not leave this for us to forget. This happens to often, gets hidden from our eyes usually and is no longer acceptable. We need to pertition the goverment and get the answers, get the goverment office to demonstrate what they are going to do about this. Dont let this be forgotten. This is the last straw for me. The last straw.