Friday, 2 April 2010

Baby P - just what is going on?

Baby-P died of his injuries on 3rd August 2007.  This appalling case dominated the headlines in late 2008 - see e.g. The Independent 18th November 2008.  The media spotlight fell particularly on Haringey Social Services and on Sharon Shoesmith who headed the department.  She was dismissed and is now challenging that dismissal in the courts - see Telegraph 7th October 2009.  It appears that OFSTED reports were amended - allegedly under pressure from Children's Minister (or his officials) - to remove criticism of the NHS and the Police and to concentrate solely or mainly on the failings of social services.  The Times 2nd April carries the story and in a further article sets out how the criticism of the NHS and the Police was removed.

It is often convenient to blame social services in these appalling cases and it is clear enough that there were serious failings in relation to Baby-P.    As those experienced with "child care" cases know all too well, local authority social services departments usually have high caseloads.  Money is tight and they frequently have a limited number of experienced social workers.  Also, social services are not the only agency which can be involved.  For instance, the Police and medical personnel are often involved with problem families.

What is needed here is a thorough and honest assessment of the roles played by everyone in this tragedy including the Department for Children, Schools and Families and its Minister (Mr. Ed Balls).  The memory of a little child who died of shocking injuries deserves no less.  The impression of scapegoating now exists and must be properly allayed.

Those directly responsible for Baby-Ps neglect and injuries are now serving imprisonment - BBC.  

Addendum 3rd April:  The Guardian reported that, according to an e-mail revealed in court, Police were aware that Jason Owens (one of those convicted) was living with Baby-P's mother.  Also, Ed Balls (Children's Minister) denied any involvement in the preparation of the report which he used as the reason to dismiss Shoesmith - see here.

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