Saturday, 14 February 2009

Compare And Contrast…

Send your children up on a roof (with their full co-operation and climbing gear) to take a picture, and it’s ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ for the authorities:
The task in the school competition was to read a book in an unusual place.

Bishop Jonathan Blake certainly rose to the challenge.

Perhaps he also thought that putting his two young sons on top of their home's 45ft-high chimney would bring them closer to God.

Unfortunately for the Most Reverend Mr Blake, 52, the police took a different view - and promptly arrested the father of five on suspicion of child neglect.

He claims he was held in cells for 24 hours and questioned before being released on bail.
Yes, he was an idiot. And a pretty soft target for the police, no doubt.
Mr Blake was arrested on January 29. Police, who described the stunt as a 'dangerous act', spoke to the boys and then handcuffed Mr Blake.

He was later released on police bail and officers have said they are taking no further action.

Mr Blake and his wife Annette, 49, have been told they may also face a social services investigation.
On the other hand, you can allow your married lover to systematically beat your daughter to death under the very noses of social workers, and no-one intervenes:
Social workers from Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire met the couple and the girl three times during the period she was being systematically beaten to death, but had no idea what Sanam was enduring.

As well as putting her in the tumble dryer, Anwar dumped her in the bin as her mother looked on.
Pity they never took a few HappySnaps at the time….
Navsarka had spent time in care while growing up and was 18 when she became pregnant.

She was living alone and on benefits in a council flat in Batley when Sanam was born on Christmas Eve 2005. The child's father was 'absent'.
Hmm, I see a pattern developing…
In August 2007 social workers first became concerned about Sanam's care because they were told she was being taken to the home of her grandmother, who is schizophrenic.

Navsarka was told it was 'not suitable' for the baby. More crucially there were at least three contacts with Anwar and Navsarka when they were with the toddler during the month she was being beaten to death.
And one of those contacts was a little strange:
Sally Scott, deputy manager of the Looked After Children Team, met them on 18 April, three weeks before Sanam's death.

The meeting was arranged to discuss whether an older child - known as Child A - who was in care could live with them.

After the 15-minute interview Miss Scott decided against allowing Child A to go there.

Sanam sat on her mother's knee throughout and Miss Scott said she saw no bruises on the child.
So, who is ‘Child A’ – a previous child of Navsarka’s, or a child of her married lover?
The couple also twice took Sanam to Kirklees Council offices in the days before her death.

Nothing untoward was noticed - even though the trial was told that Sanam was suffering so badly from her injuries she couldn't walk in her final days.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said a serious case review was ongoing.
Oh, well, as long as ‘lessons are learned’….


Anonymous said...

Given that the children had full climbing harnesses, that the family are sports climbers and country walkers, and that it isn't illegal to climb on your own house if you want to any more than it is illegal to go rock climbing, no matter what some people think is 'appropriate', I'd bet that the idiocy is somewhere else in the system.

Here it possibly is, although this account is provided by Blake himself, who is now forming a group to challenge police actions:

"after the children had come down safely from the roof and were happily playing inside, events took an unpleasant turn. After a malicious report from a neighbour, who objects to Bishop Blake’s willingness to provide inclusive Christian ministry, the road was filled with emergency vehicles and the house was stormed by police.

Blake is not a CoE bishop; he's an Open Episcopalian, not that this is any excuse for the police behaviour, but it might explain why they failed to identify that something other than genuine concern for child protection was in play, such as local religious antagonisms. Blake is an ordained CoE priest but left the church and founded a new one which then gained affiliation to recognized Christian bodies. It is a small church, but a church none the less.

A five-minute interview in the house would have established the safety of the children, and the interviews should have been carried out in a fashion which did not alarm them.

Instead, the police seem to have been determined to rush in and 'save' the children. The result is that the ensuing claim includes causing trauma to the children, who have seen their father roughed up, dragged off and kept incommunicado. The only people here to inflict cruelty on children are the officers.

Had the police been operating your excellent handy check list (tm), it is still possible the children might have been victims of neglect, but I will bet that by the time they got to about tick number five and found:
*Mother married to father of child
*Stable family
*Good housing
*Stable employment
*Children articulate and able to show climbing harnesses
*Children apparently unharmed and looking forward to more adventure holidays
*No potential cultural or racial tension within the family, but plenty outside
even the thickest police officer should have been having been wondering if there wasn't some other reason for the report of child abuse.

Even if they had taken him to the police station, a five minute google would have told them most of what they need to know - he's got full websites and a blog. For heaven's sake, they wouldn't even have had to check the CRB - he's published his enhanced disclosure. He's a controversial figure but he's not stupid.

The fact that he is a religious figure may be relevant. This bears all the hallmarks of a Satanic Panic, where the police were overtaken by the love of drama and scrambled the full services, then had to keep pressing on to try to cover up the fact that they had got it totally arse up'ards. The question is: what or who triggered the panic, and why did the police jump to it?

Hmm...maybe more people other than local Christians hold a grudge against the family "Bishop Blake sued Associated Newspapers International for referring to him as a ‘self styled bishop’. He had been properly consecrated a bishop in a public ceremony in 2000 by a Liberal Catholic Bishop. The Newspaper group lost over a hundred thousand pounds in costs.

Now the social services department covering Welling will have more of their money and time wasted interviewing people who don't need investigating. At least some of the time social services fail vulnerable children is down to them being dragged in to other peoples' florid imaginings and squabbles, where accusations of child abuse are slung about capriciously because there is little penalty for doing so maliciously.

JuliaM said...

Very interesting!

"At least some of the time social services fail vulnerable children is down to them being dragged in to other peoples' florid imaginings and squabbles..."

They would be well advised to get down to the bones of this case instead...

Anonymous said...

What bones? All there is, is a 15 year old girl who may or may not be able to look after a baby. That's not very unusual; it may be a tradition in Chantelle's tribe.

I've some sympathy with Eastbourne here; they've had a population influx to deal with, they have a disproportionate demographic of the elderly all demanding public care, and they look as if they didn't anticipate the Alfie aspect. They could reasonably have assumed that he, like any one of dozens of youths, would make himself scarce and since he's obviously not earning money, there would be no point in talking about maintenance.

Their only responsibility to Alfie was in his capacity as a child. Since he comes from a well-to-do family and has done nothing for which he can be prosecuted, they might possibly be able to argue that his mother failed to supervise him, but it's a difficult argument to make. 13 year old boys carrying out sexual experimentation was, I thought, very much how the world works. There has been no coercion or exploitation; both were Gillick competent (not that I think much of that concept, but it applies here.)

The only thing which adds meejah piquancy to this case is the bizarre insistance that Alfie is the father. The police have already looked in to the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, which means that if anybody is the sex offender, it's Chantelle, regardless of whether Alfie sired Masie or not.

As for the cast of thousands who allegedly trooped through the girl's bedroom...personally, I blame Abba. No, really. That's the plot of last summer's feel-good movie; a woman has sex with three men but doesn't know - or much care - which is the father. The only wonder is that a 15 year old girl identifies with a boiler like Streep, whilst some of our chavs are so irrideemably fick that instead of running away whistling, they ring up the Daily Wail to claim paternity.

The hands of the social workers are tied, except for the question of whether Chantelle can look after the baby. As Chantelle is at home with her mother there is no pressing reason to suppose she can't, but if she is handing the baby regularly to a 13 year old boy, there may be a stronger case for intervention. Maybe they could get an injunction to prevent further publicity, but it's already too late and the courts would be wasting their breath and public money in getting the order and trying to enforce it.

P.S. Widdecombe can't count. There are three children in this story, not one.

JuliaM said...

"it may be a tradition in Chantelle's tribe. "

Lol! Very true...

"Since he comes from a well-to-do family.."

He does...?

"That's the plot of last summer's feel-good movie; a woman has sex with three men but doesn't know - or much care - which is the father..."

And all before the age of universal benefits, too...

Anonymous said...

Yep, well-to-do, or rather, by Chantelle's standards Alfie is posh. In the divorce (or whatever it was) Alfie's mum got the house and it is a decent execubox 3/4 bedder with det gge estimated £250k. The dad is a priapic wideboy (no kiddin') but he had just enough sense to get some money out of this for Alfie, or perhaps for himself. Max Clifford is negotiating for them and has already got a C4 crew in. Given the mess the whole thing is, I'm not sure that Alfie's dad is doing the wrong thing.


On the subject of the failures of local authorities, last week we had the case of the carer dismissed when the girl who was placed with her converted to Christianity. I have reason to believe that was also in the same council, Kirklees, as the Sanam case.

If I am correct, there are few candidates for evangelical churches in that area. One in particular specializes in evangelical baptism and tends to see itself in competition for souls with the devil, Islam, etc and operates in the American charismatic model.

Now, had the girl been going to her local CoE godshop, the average vicar would have looked at a 15 going-16 girl in care and reached for his (or her) child protection policy before authorizing baptism. There is an obligation on vicars to satisfy themselves that a congregant understands the vow they take, that they are doing so for the right reasons, and not to do anything which could be interpretted as manipulative. The chances are she would have been warmly invited to attend for another year, to take religious instruction, chill, and generally decide when she was 17. No social worker would have dared say anything at that point.

My guess - and I stress it is a guess at this stage - is that when the social workers found out she had not being going to an orthodox church but a evangelical charismatic church, they panicked. They fumbled it, but they did have a credible fear that they could face complaints of brain-washing, child-stealing etc. There isn't much more inflamatory in this world than preaching the gospel to other peoples' children. If the carer had perhaps not made this crucial fact clear to them, they had grounds for terminating her contracts. No doubt we will see at employment tribunal, which will be interesting because they are normally fully public so there will have to be new injunctions if they don't want to identify the council and the carer.

If there is a bolshy carer being not quite truthful about their religion, agressive players like the Christian Institute offering to fund legal action against the council and embroiling the girl and a prey of lawyers in a case which never needed to exist, then it soaks up time, money and effort which should have gone to protecting Sanam.