Lord Laming Not Suitable to Review the Death of Baby P and Haringey’s failures
As the sad and tragic life of Baby P unfolds in the public eye many questions are being raised.
Two men including Jason Owen 37, the other man can not be named for legal reasons and the 27 year old mother of Baby P were found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child. On the orders of Judge Stephen Kramer QC, the jury found the mother and Owen not guilty of murdering the baby on August 3 last year.
Murder is the unlawful killing of another human person with malice aforethought, as defined in Common Law countries
Baby P’s case echos the tragic loss of Victoria Climbié also from Haringey who died in 2000 from horrific injuries when Haringey Social Services failed not only to put her on the at risk register but also failed to recognise abuse and was only identified as a child in need.
Liz Davies senior lecturer at the Metropolitan University along with many professionals and survivors of childhood abuse are questioning The Minister, Beverley Hughs decision to have Lord Laming heading the review. This has sparked shock as it was Lord Laming who recommended the abolishment of the child protection register.
Liz Davies said “The Minister ,Beverley Hughes, has announced a review of child protection to be headed up by Lord Laming. However, he is not the right person to do this important job. It was he who recommended that the government should abolish the child protection register. Although baby P was on the register and it didn’t protect him, it is very very unusual for a child on the Register not to gain protection. There is a lot of research which shows that as a system it works well. However, it was abolished in April 2008. In fact it was because he was on the Register that various professionals were alerted to his situation. It will be very important to scrutinise why this system went wrong in this case.
Lord Laming also recommended that police should focus on investigation of crime. This has had devastating consequences for social workers. In many cases requiring child protection intervention the facts are not clear until investigated. For instance a child might tell a teacher that they are being harmed but at that stage it is not known whether a crime has been committed or not. Now social workers are often on their own investigating until they are able to inform the police that a crime has taken place or is likely to take place. The Children Act 1989 Section 47 is the duty of social workers and police to investigate significant harm or likely harm. This is good practice of joint work throughout a case that has been eroded since Laming’s recommendation.
A multi agency team of expert practitioners, academics and survivors with representatives from children’s rights organisations should be appointed to conduct the review. There are some key aspects of this case which raise important questions but the main one for me is why the case was defined as one of family support. Of course many children gain protection through social workers and other professionals supporting the family to care for their children better. But the skill of the work is to recognise well known indicators which alert us to a family where this approach is not working and is unlikely to work. A number of these indicators were evident in this case.
This was the same mistake as happened in Victoria’s case where the social worker was following the family support model and did not conduct a proper child protection investigation. This approach has been promoted by the government in its new policies under the Every Child Matters agenda and social work teams have been restructured to suit this model, for instance there are no longer specialist child protection social workers or teams and joint social work training with police has been run down to a minimum and is sometimes non existant. All services and protocols are framed around responding to a child in need rather than a child in need of protection. This has to change.”
Teresa Cooper Author of Trust No One wrote of her experiences whilst in the care of local authorities where she suffered appauling abuse at home and further serious abuse whilst in local authority care. Teresa said ” This is a shocking case where failures to protect the most vunerable of children highlight the need for change. These changes need to involve survivors of the very system that is still failing vunerable children today. Sadly there is little learnt from historic abuse and cases like Victoria who died as a result of those failures.
It should be made protocol that survivors of abuse are involved in training and reviews on the welfare of children. Whilst we do not have the professional title of an expert we are experts by experience and we do understand and recognise those failures.”
There are calls suggesting that it should not souly be the decision of professionals who have never experienced abuse themselves to make decisions alone when it comes to the protection of vunerable children. Survivors should be taken more seriously and not only be included in the training of those working with and students intending too work with children but also in reviews of cases like Baby P. Social workers and those working with children stand more chance of recognising abuse by learning from survivors experiences. It is a wrong decision to allow Lord Laming to head the review into Baby P’s death and Haringey Social Services failures. He is not appropriate to head this review and his past decisions have failed the most vunerable children.”
The system is not working and the government are not making the right changes and have ignored not only past failures but also continuous failures.
OFSTED have recently been exposed after refusing to investigate any further historic cases of child abuse including the horrific abuse of young vunerable girls placed in Kendall House and yet they haven’t learnt from the ones they did investigate. Ed Balls the same man who appointed Paul Blackburn from Glaxo as a board member came under fire in another bad decision on the welfare of children. Blackburn was later forced to resign .
There is a serious flaw in the system and Baby P is unlikely to the be the last vunerable and innocent child to die from those failures
Baby P suffered injuries including a broken back,bleeding around spine fracture, 8 fractured ribs, ear torn away from the face, bruising and cuts to the head and face,old fracture to shin bone, missing finger nail, bites and many other injuries which will of caused terrible pain for the young child who’s life was ignored after 60 visits from Haringey social workers. Failures of every kind include the failures of the Police and Doctor who failed to recognise the most appauling of abuses and didn’t act on what was before them.
David Cameron seen angry questions why a social services department gets 100 million pounds but fails to look after children. Sharon Shoestring who is carrying out the local review said her service had worked affectively.
Failings in social services are not just in Haringey and David Cameron rightly questions why Sharon Shoestring is reviewing what her own department did.
Independent bodies should be reviewing the failings not those who were involved in the failings. This brings upa question where in Islington a complaint was made against a social worker and the social worker himself investigated the complaint made against himself.
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