Monday, 15 December 2008

Have You ‘Learned Enough Lessons’ Now..?

A few paragraphs on the BBC News site detail the sad life of yet another abused and murdered child:
A toddler killed by his mother had been taken off the child protection register, it has emerged.

Sean Denton, died aged 18 months in Barnet, north London, in October 2007, and his mother Amanda Adams killed herself shortly afterwards.
The BBC report is very bland and matter of fact about the story:
It is thought it happened after she learned her partner Mark Denton had committed suicide.
But there are clues that this is yet another case of ‘child protection’ as utter failure:
Barnet Council said Sean's parents had previously both been convicted of manslaughter in 1999.
I love the way that’s just thrown in there, almost as an afterthought. And no details of who they killed or why are given.

But the ‘Sun’ reports, they were also junkies. In fact, the ‘Mirror’ gives even more details of the case that throw a very different light on the story:
Amanda, 30, and Mark, 35, together killed a squatter in a violent row in 1999 - and were each sentenced for manslaughter. Amanda was jailed for life, Mark received a lesser sentence - but both were released after just five years.
Cheers, justice system!
Until now, the tragic circumstances of Sean’s death have been kept quiet. His parents met in rehab in 1999. Amanda, whose father killed himself when she was just eight years old, was known to authorities as a troublesome teenager whose mother couldn’t control her.

When she and Mark came out of rehab they were homeless and lived in a squat. They soon spiralled back into a life of drink and drugs. It wasn’t long before they killed a fellow squatter and were jailed. They were released in 2004 and the following year they got back together. Amanda then fell pregnant with Sean.

The authorities were so concerned that Sean was placed on the child protection register even before his birth. But, astonishingly, the decision was made to take him off the register when he was just a few weeks old because he was healthy and there were no signs of abuse.
Oh, yeah, these are sterling examples of parents, aren’t they?

So, back to the Beeb:
A spokesman for the council said the authority would have acted if they had known Mr Denton had died as his death had a "profound" affect on the child's mother.

A Serious Case Review was launched into Sean's death by the Safeguarding Children Board.

A council source said the confidential review found Barnet Council "had behaved appropriately and in line with government guidance in the case."

He added the review found "that it would be unlikely that intervention would have saved his life due to the mothers wish for the family to be reunited in death."
Or to paraphrase: ‘Oh, come on! How could we possibly predict that these people might not be up to the demanding task of looking after a child?’ Perhaps because, as Dumbjon points out, their own outlook is so often skewed a few degrees off true...?

And as far as the Beeb is concerned, that’s it. Case closed, go back to reading about the ‘X Factor’ result, peasants.

But over at the ‘Mirror, things aren’t looking so rosy:
The year-long Serious Case Review, seen by the Sunday Mirror, reveals a catalogue of fatal blunders that led to the child’s welfare being ignored.

Mother and baby were being monitored by the Metropolitan Police, London Probation, Barnet NHS Primary Care Trust, Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health, London Borough of Barnet and Barnet Homes and Barnet Children’s Services.
That’s a lot of agencies…
The papers reveal the many mistakes made by the organisations which failed to spot the baby was in danger. They also reveal a complete communication breakdown between the 10 different authorities, including two police forces, which meant Barnet child protection workers were not told of the father’s suicide.
Breakdowns in communication? Where have we seen that before?
Oh, right! All the previous failures….
A further independent review slammed officials for painting a ‘positive picture’ of the parents and being ‘overly optimistic’. It said carers did not check records properly and ‘the history of extreme violence was not explored’.
One question – are we sure this is even the right report? Or is this just a template given to every authority, to just change the names each time?

Because it doesn’t sound so different from all those other reports, does it? The ones from which the officials always swear they will ‘learn lessons’…
A whistleblower who attended the Serious Case Review was appalled by what he heard.

He told the Sunday Mirror: ‘Sirens should have been ringing as loud and clear over this case as possible.’ The review suggested there should have been greater risk assessments and that they should have looked more closely at the history of the parents. If two killer parents with a history of drug and alcohol problems aren’t a risk, I don’t know what is.

’Baby S’s death was completely preventable - no ifs or buts.
‘Whistleblower’, eh…? Let’s hope this one doesn’t get the same treatment as the last one….
The separate, damning independent Overview Review report, by child protection expert Sally Trench said: ‘Previous records were not consulted, extreme violence not explored.

The director of children’s services in Barnet at the time of Sean’s death - Gillian Palmer - has since moved on to work for Greenwich Council in South London.

Yesterday when approached at her home she refused to speak to the Sunday Mirror about the case.
Yeah, I just bet she did…
’The whistleblower also said of the Serious Case Review: ‘No one said they were sorry.’ There was an air of regretfulness but mostly people said they did all they could do.’

Then we had an email around warning us not to speak to the Press.’
You can now see why the Beeb didn’t want to go into more detail about this case, can’t you?


Anonymous said...

His parents met in rehab in 1999.

Whoever said romance is dead?

When she and Mark came out of rehab they were homeless and lived in a squat.

That must've played havoc on the knees.

Another stark testament of modern Britain. Ye Gods.

Leg-iron said...

There's another case here:

(I'll try the link thing but it doesn't always work)

As for learning lesssons, well these people don't 'learn' lessons. As in school, they take the lesson and discuss how each of them feel about it and how it relates to vegetarianism, global warming, mulitcultural diversity equality politically correct issues and fur.

Then they work out who they can blame for it.

Anonymous said...

"Another stark testament of modern Britain."

Sadly so...

"Taylor and Harrison, of Chapel Court, Hyde, Manchester, were found guilty of child cruelty following a three-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court. Both were sentenced to three years."

That'll teach them...

Anonymous said...

gillian palmer head of childrens services in greenwich is now targeting our childrens school. she believes it is in the best interests of the children that all 260 children be moved into over bulging classrooms around the deptford/greenwich boroughs. our ofsted report was not as good as last time but ofsted do not want to close us down they said to keep our school going it needs to go into special measures. gillian palmer says the school is under sized and wishes to mothball it for 2/3years when the local housing development picks up and more families move to the surrounding area. she is yet again making a hasty decision about our childrens lives to which it may be one more she may later regret. we have a large public meeting on the 12th febuary at charlotte turner school benbow street deptford se8 3dh at 7pm. if you wish to come and support our school or you feel she may yet again be making a big mistake come down and have your say. we have to stop this woman closing down our kids school. the kids are upset they do not want to go to other schools for 2 years. what happened to the phrase every child matters. has mrs palmer not forgotten what mistake she made for the choice of sean denton along with the rest of her team at barnet council..................