What Delayed Independent Baby P Report?

December 1, 2008

The report into the death of Baby P has been published and can be read here. The report highlights serious failings in Haringey Council and makes so many recommendations that one is left to wonder whether anything was being done correctly, and marvel at the sheer incompetence of the way Children’s Services in Haringey have been operating. For an Authority under whose watch Victoria Climbie died, its behaviour has been shockingly complacent.

After he was handed the report Ed Balls has acted swiftly for which he should be commended. Two elected members have resigned and six council employees including Sharon Shoesmith have been pushed which was long overdue. But it is truly remarkable that the report Ed Balls commissioned now wasn’t commissioned immediately after the death of Baby P. As there were ongoing criminal investigations, that report obviously wouldn’t have been published but what prevented the then Secretary of State from commissioning a detailed and in depth review of Social Services in Haringey last year? For over a year the outrageously arrogant Sharon Shoesmith was left in post and we can only speculate as to how many children in Haringey were put at risk or their cases dealt with in the incompetent manner described in the report. What explanation can the Government offer for sitting on its hands and doing bugger all for 12 months? And what were Government appointed Inspectors doing once they learnt of Baby P’s death?

A few weeks ago Gordon Brown accused David Cameron of playing politics for demanding an independent investigation into the death of Baby P. As a result of this political pressure, an independent report was commissioned whose findings will now lead to vulnerable children being afforded better protection and incompetent staff being removed from their posts. I hope Brown now gives Cameron an apology and thanks him for playing politics!


Leader of Haringey Council Resigns

December 1, 2008

Following the publication of the report into the death of Baby P, George Meehan the leader of Haringey Council , and Liz Santry, cabinet member for children and young people have resigned. The report states that there was ‘insufficient strategic leadership and management oversight by elected leaders.’

Sharon Shoesmith, Head of Children’s Services has been sacked -no doubt there’ll be universal support of this decision. Ed Balls has appointed a new team to take over the authority’s children services. More on this later.


Baby P Report

December 1, 2008

A report into the fiasco leading to Baby P’s death has been handed to Ed Balls who has pledged to publish at least some parts of the report. We should learn later today whether any action will be taken against individuals involved in the case or whether the Government will take over the running of Children’s Services at Haringey Council.


Councillors Not Held To Account

November 25, 2008

The two councillors facing a vote of no confidence in the handling of the Baby P case have survived the vote and  remain in their posts.

If things were different, and Haringey Council had been given the top rating in the country for its Children’s Services, would both Councillors not have sent out press releases taking credit for providing such an outstanding service??? So why is it that they and all their colleagues in the Labour group at Haringey do not want to accept responsibility for such an outrageous failure in protecting a child?

Are we seeing Haringey’s Labour group following the example of Gordon Brown in their excuses? When things go well, its the politicians that are taking the right decisions, when things go wrong its someone else’s fault!!


Ministers Aware of Haringey Council Failings

November 14, 2008

Its now being reported that Ministers were warned by a social worker that Haringey Council wasn’t following the right procedures six months before the death of Baby P. Whether or not anyone from Government took any action remains to be seen but the independent inquiry’s remit just got wider.

Update:

A spokeswoman for the DCSF said: “Our records show that we received a letter dated 16 February 2007, that was forwarded to us from the Department of Health, detailing an employment tribunal issue with Haringey Council, and containing an allegation that child protection procedures were not being followed in Haringey.

“Officials from this department replied on 21 March 2007. In that letter they made the point that ministers could not comment on the specific details of the employment tribunal case.

“Secondly, as is standard practice, they suggested that the individual should notify the relevant inspectorate, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, to take appropriate action and they provided the necessary contact details. The Permanent Secretary of the DCSF has looked at the reply and is confident that the proper procedures were followed.”

Further Update:

Gordon Brown rejects allegations of buck passing and says correct procedures were followed.


If This Is True…..

November 14, 2008

The Times is reporting that social workers in Haringey Council tried to prevent the baby born to the mother of Baby P while she was in jail from being taken into care. If this is confirmed then the children’s department at Haringey Council should be taken over by a Government appointed official with immediate effect. It is beyond comprehension that a mother who pleaded guilty to neglecting a child who subsequently died would be allowed to keep a new born baby. The police it is alleged to their credit intervened and overruled the social workers who wanted to let mother and child ‘bond’ and felt removing the baby would be against the mother’s ‘human rights.’ If this is true, what kind of society are we living in?


Council Failures

November 12, 2008

After the Victoria Climbie case and the child protection measures put in place to ensure nothing similar ever occurred again, the mother who admitted her guilt and two men have been found guilty of causing the death of Baby P, a 17 month old child, despite him being the ‘subject of a multi-agency child protection plan.’

I recall numerous and extensive changes being made to Social Services in Kirklees after 2003 with the introduction of Every Child Matters to ensure all the required safeguards were in place so that such a tragedy would not be repeated. These measures were brought in by legislation and all Local Authorities had to comply. The expectation thereafter was that no child would be failed again in the same way as Victoria Climbie. Yet we learn of another catastrophic failure by the authorities which has led to a child being subject to extreme abuse and pain before eventually dying. This case is far worse than the Victoria Climbie case as Baby P was on the Council’s register of children at risk which should have ensured that his death was prevented.

A review of child protection has been ordered but Haringey Council on whose watch this tragedy happened has a lot to answer, not least why appropriate action was not taken when this child was visited on numerous occasions by officers from the Council. Despite the failure to protect this child, no one has been suspended or dismissed with two social workers and a lawyer only being given formal written warnings. Sharon Shoesmith, the chairwoman of Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board has quite incredibly said that ‘I am satisfied that the action that should have been taken was taken.’

When such a tragedy occurs, we begin to wonder how many more children are being let down by the authorities and are in danger – confidence in the whole system is affected and those people who are doing their jobs in a professional manner are also tainted. When a child dies in these circumstances, it isn’t sufficient to simply say that the system failed or that the right procedures were followed. People must be held to account especially where mistakes made such as in this case are proven.