Monday, May 11, 2009
Another Baby P
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/articl....arn-danger.htmlWhy there will soon be a new Baby P scandal - by the woman who tried to warn of dangerBy Liz Davies, Senior Social Work LecturerLast updated at 10:45 PM on 09th May 2009Comments (2) Add to My Stories Tragedy: Warning signs were ignored before Baby P's deathI am a social worker and I teach social workers. But if my own child wanted to become one, I would be very afraid. I realised that sad truth last week when Lord Laming, the Government's child protection 'guru', rebuked social workers for spending too much time filling in forms. They do. But he largely invented that mountain of paperwork. I know better than most that Laming likes paperwork. I alerted him years ago to the involvement of a member of Baby P's family with paedophile pimps. He ordered a report, which confirmed everything, but it was kept secret. Shockingly, no action followed. Children's Secretary Ed Balls ordered Laming's latest report following Baby P's death. It confirmed the crisis in child protection work. But it does not admit the Government's earlier 'reforms', based on Laming's recommendations, are to blame. Following the announcement of Laming's review, my professional body, the British Association of Social Workers, asked him to invite submissions from social work academics such as me. The invitation never came. I made a written submission anyway, explaining what desperate social workers tell me. They spend up to 80 per cent of their time filling in forms, and have unbearably high caseloads. Inexperienced staff hold child-protection responsibilities, and care decisions are based on cost and targets. The service barely functions to protect the most vulnerable children from harm. Laming was first asked to overhaul social services after the death of Victoria Climbié in 2000. His report recommended the abolition of the Child Protection Register, and helped the then Children's Minister, Margaret Hodge, launch her controversial Every Child Matters agenda. This called for database profiling of all children, switching the emphasis from protecting endangered children to monitoring all children and providing 'family support'. With a 30-year career in child protection, I know the register has been invaluable in flagging up those at grave risk. But it was wound down last April. The database replacing it aims to log intimate details about all children. Social workers say vulnerable children are now lost like needles in a haystack. Today, increasing numbers of children are being abused and killed as beleaguered social workers quit the profession, overwhelmed by bureaucracy, lack of police support and public opprobrium. Yet Laming believes more forms, targets, jargon and checklists 'will drive improvements'. But what do tortured children really need? I have investigated many abusers and child sex rings. Tellingly, I have also previously tried to enlist Laming's help. When I uncovered a child sex ring in Islington's care homes in the Nineties, I found one of the homes included a young relative of Baby P who was introducing other children to pimps and appeared to be a victim himself. He needed the help of experienced social workers and dedicated detectives who could organise surveillance, intelligence and physical protection. The boy begged social workers for help. But Margaret Hodge, who was leader of Islington Council at the time, refused to believe a ring was active. Social worker Liz Davies says she gave Lord Laming, right, a 100-page dossier about a child sex ring in Islington care homes - but no paedophiles were caughtIn despair, I blew the whistle to Laming, then the Government's chief social services inspector. I gave him a 100-page dossier, warning children would die. His deputy promised that my allegations would be investigated. Laming arranged for a secret report on Baby P's relative. It confirmed everything - a copy was leaked but never published. Disgracefully, no children were interviewed or rescued, and no paedophiles caught. The cycle of abuse within the family was allowed to flourish. Child abuse is often a form of organised crime. Under the 1989 Children Act, social workers and police are legally obliged to investigate 'actual or likely significant harm' to a child. Yet police involvement in such investigations is now minimal. Why? Because one of the recommendations in Laming's 2003 report stipulates that police should only investigate crimes against children, not the risk of significant harm. That means that where social workers were once helped by police, now they are usually left to tackle problems - often involving violent, unstable adults - on their own. It has been reported that Baby P's 'stepfather' had a known history of violence and that his maternal grandfather was a twice-convicted paedophile. Surely these were good enough reasons for police and social services to focus on the harm they posed? Yet police responded to Laming's 2003 report by slashing their child protection teams. Child abuse investigation is no longer anyone's particular responsibility. Disastrously, the Government's new 'integrated' approach to children means that nowadays most social services are not even run by social workers but by former teachers, such as Sharon Shoesmith, who was in charge of the department in Haringey when Baby P died. The Tories have promised to abolish the huge children's database and restore a slimmed down Child Protection Register for genuinely at-risk children. I cannot wait. The way to retain good social workers is to give them back the tools to protect those they are there to serve. • Liz Davies, Senior Lecturer in Children's and Family Social Work at London Metropolitan University, was talking to Eileen Fairweather.Print this article Read later Email to a friend Share this article: Digg it Del.icio.us Reddit Newsvine Nowpublic StumbleUpon Facebook MySpace Fark Add your comments Comments (2)Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below, or debate this issue live on our message boards. Newest Oldest Best rated Worst rated View all You only have to read the every child matters framework to see that it's written by a complete moron who has taken advice from more complete morons, putting the emphasis onto loving families and using everything from showing too much 'affection and time spent with a child' a mother who stays at home as 'emotional harm' to missed dental appointment as 'significant harm' they can snatch away a loved child in an instant, and do, just to meet those 'targets' that they denied were real until Hazel Blears announced they were going last year (but just changed designations) while children such as baby Peter are allowed to be used and disposed off by monsters. But then Labour does not believe in the family, it's social engineering projects are well documented, past and present and now that they hav 'broken' the families apart with their nanny state and their secret courts can we trust social workers (left wing labour nuts) to do the right thing and put the child's best interest first?