Lynne Featherstone MP and Councillor Katherine Reece have today expressed their anger and disappointment, following Haringey Council’s refusal to allow an independent review of its Childrens Services department.
The Liberal Democrat MP and Councillor called for the independent review last week, after a serious case review into the abuse of Child T revealed multiple failings by Haringey Social Services, similar to those in the Baby P case.
The news about Child T was shortly followed by news about a Haringey Social Worker, who was sacked for failing to protect another child (Child B) from sexual abuse.
In response to the call, the Chief Executive of Haringey Council stated that the Child T abuse occurred at a time of ‘significant transition in the service,’ and he did not agree that conducting an independent review would be the best way to tackle the challenges.
The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green will be meeting with the Chief Executive to discuss the matter further.
Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“After the recent reports about Child T and Child B, it is shocking that Haringey Council are not taking this opportunity to conduct an independent review and get an objective assessment of Childrens Services.
“It’s all very well to say that things have changed, or are changing, but I have heard this all before – after the failure to protect both Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly.
“On this basis, my colleagues and I still believe that an independent review is absolutely necessary to protect Children in Haringey.
“I will be meeting with the Chief Executive to discuss this further and will be keeping my constituents informed.”
THE council’s response was disappointing and predictable. The claim, that this case happened at a time of significant transition in the service, is a variant of the “we have learnt lessons” excuse that we have heard time and time again.
The truth is that there has been no transition in the service, significant or otherwise, in the decade since the Lord Laming public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié on the council’s child protection register:
• a former council boss was kept on after the Baby-P furore to provide “stability”
• A Baby-P-era manager is still employed at senior level;
• the failings in Child-T case were similar to the failings in the Baby-P case
• the pattern of delaying the exposure is repeated – in the case of Child–T, until three years after the event so that it can be claimed that things have improved;
• the recently departed Children’s Service boss never accepted important parts of May’s High Court judgement in the AB-CD case, that Found that aspects of Children’s Service’s conduct were unlawful;
• the chair of the Haringey Children’s Safeguarding Board has called for no more change
The lesson that has failed to be learnt again and again, is that there needs to be a wholesale change in culture. There needs to be clean-out and the appointment of people who know what they are doing.
Clive Carter sums it up well. It is a combination of inadequate resources, that’s Money, and the right people to do the job. There have been some appointments of staff that seem more politically correct that appoint the right people for the job. I have worked for two LAs, and can speak with some relevant background experience. I have come across Haringey Staff who really do no seem to know what the job is, almost feeling I know more than they do.
Staff in the Children’s section need to be very carfully appraised. Many years ago I worked as an assistant scool teacher for a year before I went to University. I also spent two years working with children as a playleader in our parks. The Tottenham kids played brilliant tip’n’run cricket with two bowlers, they loved it, but it was crucial to keep a very careful eye on all of the kids. Fortunately over two summers I had no problems, I loved the job.
Now I am the potential client for Social Services with health problems at a pensionable age. Social Services are INCAPABLE of working with me to help me to help myself. So what chance a child who has not their own ability to cope, and at the mercy of parents who are incapable or just unstable, so they take their frustrations out on an innocent child. Spotting an injury on an introvert child is not difficult. Failure to do so is not on. And this failure is at the sharp end. Do managers ever accompany their subordinate staff (sorry to use that word) on visits to ensure they can do the job? if not, why not?