Improving Haringey's care of children

I went to the Haringey Strategic Partnership meeting last night particularly to have the opportunity to raise some of my ongoing concerns over the plans for child protection post Baby P. Peter Lewis, who took on the role after Sharon Shoesmith’s sacking, will present Haringey Council’s response / action plan to the hideously damning Joint Area Review report by OFSTED commissioned by Ed Balls.

The action plan is pages and pages of issues, identified leads and objectives and so on and so forth. As I said to the meeting – and the meeting is all the key players in Haringey, not just the council – I can’t judge the actions as the majority as they are about details which go beyond what I know of. However the three key issues I raised which as I said might be in the many pages but I couldn’t identify them were:

– firstly that much of what went wrong in Haringey was culture and attitude – and unless that changed all the proposed actions would not deliver a safer child protection regime

– secondly – that so very many people – including myself – warned Haringey that children were at risk and they took no notice. Were there measures that would ensure that warnings were heeded rather than rebutted and ignored?

– lastly, what measures were there that would ensure that professional advice and experience was not simply steamrollered into submission by management? Decisions made by the Safeguarding Children Board that led to Baby P’s death were by agreement – but my understanding is that concerns were raised, professional judgements and warning were given – but that the managerial lead simply intimidated or ignored those who raised concerns into submission.

The answers were not wholly satisfactory. On the first – yes promises that culture and attitude would be entirely different. Good – but haven’t seen the text that will go with the action plan to the Secretary of State today. On second one – the answer was about escalating the issues brought by staff to senior managerment. Given I went to the lead politician and the chief executive with my warnings and they ignored me – not convinced escalation is the safeguard we need. And on the third – well we will see!

0 thoughts on “Improving Haringey's care of children

  1. It is not after the fact reviews that we need (the more so in this area where the review kicks in after enormous damage is done), but a regime in which getting it right is encouraged and not being able to get it right is spotted up front. Given that it looks as if we will continue for some time to have a public administration in which central policy wonks are disconnected from the real world, and that they no longer have the comfort of knowing that the local checks and balances will ensure that delivery is appropriate for the area where it is deployed, the growing, common solution is to develop a pro-active and ultimately very competent regulatory layer. We have it now for the dimensions of things (e.g. Office of Rail Regulation), of utilities, and of finance (the FSA) – not always performing well enough for us citizens, but getting better. The Information Commissioner is getting stronger, and so is the OFT. We don’t yet have it across the whole of public transport (but there are some stirrings, although not visible in DfT), and clearly we need to develop the concept for education and social services – currently there is inspection, but the regulatory concept adds, among other features, up front control over finance and the quality of the uses to which it is put.