Three young children trapped in a squalid 'hell hole'Hmm, this is becoming a bit of a regular occurrence…
home were reported to the council by worried neighbours two years before the authorities finally rescued them, it was revealed today.
The children, aged one, three and four, were kept in darkness inside the filthy house and never allowed out by their cruel parents.Surely not!?
Neighbours, concerned that the youngsters were hardly ever seen or heard, repeatedly spoke to housing officials about them and have accused social services of negligence.
Residents say they are furious that the city council tried to claim officials had acted swiftly to help the children after receiving a tip-off.Oh, dear, once again a council's spin slams into the brick wall of cold reality…
In reality the authorities did not take concerns about the family seriously enough, neighbours said.
The neighbour said they reported their concerns in person to the council official 'on two or three occasions'.I’m sure they did ‘do something’ – they ticked the ‘visited house’ box on their sheet, went back to their offices, and called it a day until the next time someone called…
'She told us they were aware there were issues with the family.
Council housing officials would do walkabouts on the estate and they would stand and look at the house quite a few times. Officials went to the house but no one seemed to do anything.
'Seeing those pictures of the state of the house I am really angry that we expressed concerns and nothing was done. Social services should take reports like this more seriously. You only had to stand near the front door and smell it, it was obvious something was wrong.
'You trust the local authority when you report something like this but it wasn't until the police were involved that something was done.'
The jailed parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not come from the kind of deprived backgrounds usually found in cases of extreme child negligence.So, it seems despite being ‘highly intelligent’, this woman’s family actually had as much ability to deal with their problems as the average inner-city chav?
They met in a nightclub six years ago when she was a first-year university student and he was working as a DJ and part-time graphic designer. The couple quickly moved in together and before long started a family.
He was said to suffer from 'anxiety and fear of open spaces' and according to the woman's family she was 'trapped in an abusive relationship'.
And despite knowing about this ‘abusive relationship’, the parents and siblings were content to let little sister wallow in squalor and bring up children in such conditions?
The children's mother, who worked part-time as a caterer, came from a respectable family. Her father is a leading authority on the famous composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, while her sister is a shop manageress and brothers works in television production.All that family, and they never once raised any concerns over the welfare of their own relatives…? It took strangers to do that?
The local authority has admitted having previous involvement with the family before the parents' arrest late last year, but it denies acting too slowly.So, you could see and smell the condition of the house, you knew children were living there, but that was ‘no grounds for concern’?
Eoin Rush, assistant director of Children and Families at the council, said: 'The Local Authority's Children Services department has provided occasional advice and support to this family in the past. There were no grounds for concern about the children's living conditions during this period and contact was not related to the more recent acute deterioration in the family household.'
Just how many family houses are there like this in York (of all places) that this could be considered ‘normal’?
York City Council is to hold an internal review to see if lessons can be learned.‘Tut! What’s the big deal, it’s all sorted now, isn’t it? Quit complaining…’
Carole Runciman, the councillor overseeing children's services, said: 'No authority is ever perfect but we got the children out reasonably promptly, we know that they are flourishing where they are now and for me the most important thing is they are safe, they are being properly looked after and they have been dealt with through the courts.'
Yup. Actually knocking on the door or something would have been the logical thing to do.
Actually, city councils often leave the formal social work itself to the county councils, whilst having housing stock inspectors and benefits investigators in-house, and there would also probably be flashily-advertised women's shelters on the local authority books.
This may be a case of extreme non-joined-up, non-thinking by the City of York.
No excuses - they should have passed this information on at least to local health and safety, but how many bureaucrats would dare to do this? The Data Protection Act is a scary piece of junk due to which much-needed liaison between agencies can become a criminal act.
Castle City has a one-month turnaround rate from referrals to the county council's clerically-trained tenancy support team - and that's for having 'successfully' contacted the tenants concerned.
If tenants don't answer after a phone call or card drop or two, the case would be closed, reported to referring officials, and then end of.
We can rest easy in the knowledge that lessons will be....
"Actually knocking on the door or something would have been the logical thing to do."
But it probably doesn't actually feature on anyone's action plan or risk assessment form.
"The Data Protection Act is a scary piece of junk due to which much-needed liaison between agencies can become a criminal act."
Must admit, I was half expecting to see a mention of that as a shield against criticism when I read the original story...
"We can rest easy in the knowledge that lessons will be...."
Oooh! Oooh! I know this one!
Does anyone else remember the Maria Colwell case. That was the original 'lessons will be learned' 'steps will be taken', as long ago as 1974.
i do know that Soc. Services are desperately understaffed on the ground and many of the ones that are there still have the left wing liberal 'no one is to blame' mindset.
We had a 'report' about the welfare of a baby and the family would not let Soc Services in.
They tried the same trick with us but we put a foot in the door and forced a way in. Baby was fine but the family made a complaint of illegal entry etc etc.
This was around the time of Victoria Climbie or something of equal magnitude, so it did not get far.
"Does anyone else remember the Maria Colwell case. That was the original 'lessons will be learned' 'steps will be taken', as long ago as 1974."
I only remember it being referenced from the other cases, and from what I've read up on since.
There's a depressing familiarity to all these cases though. The lessons they always want to learn don't seem to be rocket science to me...
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