The wider questions from the Baby P tragedy

I’ve got a piece over on the New Statesman blog:

There are wider issues untouched by Ed Balls’s short, sharp investigation.

For example – Sharon Shoesmith was in charge of education as well as child protection – following the recommendations of Lord Laming turned into legislation by the 2004 Children’s Act. It seemed a good and obvious idea at the time – stopping the gap through which children might fall if teachers didn’t communicate worries with social services. But it clearly didn’t work. Is this the failing just of staff in Haringey, or is there a deeper problem with the manner – or perhaps even concept – of merging the two? It’s not fashionable for politicians to say, “I don’t know”, but on this one I don’t. My mind is open – but I am sure we need to consider the issue carefully.

And what about inspections? Just before Victoria Climbie’s death outside inspectors gave Haringey a glowing report. Just as this time Haringey got a glowing report just before all the truth over Baby P’s death came tumbling out. Huge resources go in to inspections. Are they really being well used?

You can read the full piece here.

0 thoughts on “The wider questions from the Baby P tragedy

  1. It must be so easy to criticise from your cosseted environment. How about looking at the real issues here. Lack of government funding, being the main one!! Everyone in social care is aware of the shortcomings. No government, of any persuasion, will fund the issue adequately. What is funded is clearly inadequate. Yes it’s the funding that is inadequate far more often than the workers involved – who charge around working many hours above those that they are paid for in an effort to attempt to be more effective. But isn’t this why inspections are announced weeks before they are undertaken? It enables senior management and the government to get the report they want rather than the true picture, which would evidence such a lack of resources. Yes, of course there were omissions/mistakes and it’s a sad indictment of the system that a child has to die in such a way. I wish that this were the only occasion of such an incident, but you and I know it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Social workers have been saying this will happen for years. All over the country there have been gasps of “..there but for fortune..”. It’s a shame our elected representatives can only criticise the shortcomings of individuals trying to work in such difficult and unsupported environments rather than tackle the real issues of today’s social deprivation and lack of discipline that is more prevalent that most realise and the root cause of the problem faced by social care professionals. So have a look closer and you may find that you (as an elected representative) are as culpable as those you accuse. This is, of course, a matter between you and your (political??) conscience. I hope you are comfortable and feel no responsibility in this case. I, for my part, am not sure that anyone in parliament can feel so comfortable with a system that is clearly under funded and close to collapse. Unfortunately, I am convinced this will happen many more times before something is done (if ever) by those that are elected to serve the people. I note no-one in parliament felt the need to resign. Is it any wonder that so few people have respect for MP’s.