New failings in Doncaster’s child protection system emerged yesterday after a violent and drug-addicted father known to social services was jailed for life for the murder of his baby son.Another case of a violent, drug addicted parent left in charge of a small child? Say it ain’t so, Doncaster…
The child’s mother, Lindsay Harris, 19, received a suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service for perverting the course of justice. She repeatedly lied to doctors and the police about the cause of the injuries, saying that Alfie had accidently fallen down the stairs.Well, that’ll teach her to lie to the courts!
Crucial information that Goddard had twice been referred for psychiatric treatment for his ferocious temper was not passed on to social services at Doncaster Council, nor that he had attacked Harris, even though they had been in contact with the family for more than two years.So, we can expect to see some public servants in the dock next? Sacked, at the very least?
Reforms put into place after the death of Victoria Climbié eight years ago placed a legal duty on health, education, social services and the police to share this type of information.
I doubt it. But I expect there’ll be a few sharply worded letters in their futures:
A serious case review, one of seven ordered in the past two years, is under way into the death of Alfie, and will question whether social services could have done more to protect him. It will almost certainly criticise health staff for failing to pass on information about the father’s temper and drug addiction.Oooh, harsh…
Naturally, the closing of ranks in the unseemly scramble to deflect blame has already begun in earnest. The temporary head of children’s services wasted no time taking out an onion for the ‘mother’:
Speaking outside the court, Paul Gray, the interim head of children’s services at Doncaster, said that he wished his staff had known about those facts and that Harris had been a victim of domestic violence at Goddard’s hands. A relative, who did not want to be named, said that she had called social workers shortly before Alfie’s death asking for them to get involved because of Goddard’s temper, which was known to the family. “Living with him was like living with a loaded gun. I gave social workers valid and constructive information but nothing was done,” she said.He ‘wished his staff had known’, yet we learn that a relative passed on their concerns about Goddard? Didn’t they think to take any action then?
The judge in the case, seemingly ignoring that inconvenient little detail about the legal duty for the health services to pass on details, was quick to declare his opinion:
However, passing sentence, Mr Justice Beatson said that he did not hold any particular outside agency responsible.I think we’ll let the serious case review decide that, won’t we…?
Addressing Goddard, he said: “The issue here is not one of blame for outside agencies. You accept, as does Ms Harris, responsibility for what took place in the house.”