Saturday, September 11, 2010

Advice on how not to do it surely?

The baby P case was a scandal that rocked the nation and lead to the sacking and disgrace of Sharon Shoesmith the £130,000-a-year head of social work with Haringey council. Desperate attempts to cover up the scandal and damage limitation exercises meant that fewer heads rolled than were probably due, but that's the type of system we have to deal with these days where nobody is to blame despite a heinous crime and extreme neglect on the part of the experts.
Still it was a surprise to see Shoesmith hit the news again other than for her appeal against her sacking that is.

CHILD protection experts were furious last night after it emerged that disgraced Baby P chief Sharon Shoesmith has been invited to give MPs advice on child safety.
Ms Shoesmith, whose team repeatedly missed chances to save the little boy from being beaten to death, will give evidence next week.
She is one of five “experts” asked to speak at the Education Committee in a one-day inquiry into safeguarding children.
Angry politicians have branded her appearance at the House of Commons committee as an “insult” to Baby P. Margaret Morrissey, the founder of lobbying group Parents Outloud, and a former Ofsted inspector, said last night: “Shoesmith oversaw one of the most horrendous cases of child abuse in recent years. There is no parent in this country who would have any confidence in her views.
“To have elected politicians choosing someone who has been a failure in her field is simply staggering. Whatever has possessed them? The committee needs to think seriously about the impression this gives.”
Ms Shoesmith was sacked from her £130,000-a-year post with Haringey council in north London in December 2008 after a damning report by inspectors.
Baby P, now known by his real name, Peter Connelly, died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother, her lover and a lodger. The boy had suffered 50 injuries despite receiving 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over the final eight months of his life.
Ms Shoesmith is taking her legal battle over the decision to sack her without compensation to the Court of Appeal. 
Tory Education Committee chairman Graham Stuart said: “Our job is to take evidence from people, whether they are popular or not.”
The remarks of the people involved there just about sum it up, save only for Graham Stuart of course, then again I can sort of see his point if the enquiry were to find out how to stop things going wrong and how not to look after children in danger. Though somehow I doubt that's what's on the cards there.
The only way the shambles that child protection services can be reformed is to increase the numbers of social workers and pay them well. This however has to be coupled with a removal of the safety net from the social workers should things go wrong, no more shifting the blame and far greater accountability. This includes the family courts where again things have gone wrong and innocent parents have had their children stolen off them by the state. No more anonymity in these cases and no more closed door trials.
If the enquiry does improve child safety (instead of complicating it and allowing cover ups to continue) these are the matters that need to be addressed. If Shoesmith acts as an example of what can go wrong and how to avoid it, fair enough, anything else would be a total farce.

2 annotations:

English Pensioner said...

In my view these things happen because of the now favoured "Multi-Agency" approach to child protection. No one actually seems to be in charge and responsible for anything. We don't want more Social Workers, we want better social workers who actually take responsibility and have the authority to get on with the job, demanding help from other public sectors (eg the police)if necessary.

My daughter who is currently preparing a dissertation for her Doctorate is writing as an insider involved with social services. Being politically incorrect like myself, I gather she has categorised social workers into a number of groups, giving the groups names that she won't reveal to me. But I gather that at her Viva, the Professors were impressed by the idea and have asked her to expand on this aspect. I'm waiting for the chance to read it, but even more I would like to see her employers' collective faces if they read it!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Quiet Man

Plainly Ms Shoesmith is well qualified to advise our ConDemolition™ government on how not to administer child ‘protection'.

I just hope she is doing this voluntarily - ie for free and not at the rate of £130,000pa plus pension, or more.