Saturday, 25 February 2012


…you get them when you toss a stone into a pool of water, and they spread to the furthest edges of it.

You also get them, it seems, when you lift a curtain on social services failings in one borough, and they affect all others:
A newborn baby was left in the care of his homeless, alcoholic mother, following a catalogue of failings by health and social services.

A serious case review into the death of the child, known only as Baby Robert, revealed the blunders by agencies involved in his care.
Because when a newborn dies in the care of an alcoholic homeless woman, you just know someone’s screwed up somewhere!
Baby Robert was just 34 days old when he died in Southend in 2009.

His lifeless body was found in bed with his mother, who had “consumed a large amount of alcohol the night before his death”.
How terribly unexpected…

But this time, the excuses are actually rather novel:
The review by the Local Children Safeguarding Board, headed by Southend Council, was carried out in 2010, but only came to the Echo’s attention after someone alerted the paper. At the time of Baby Robert’s death, Southend Council was said to have been swamped with additional work due to the publicity surrounding the death of Baby P in Haringey, North London.
Yes, it was ‘OMG! Check all our ducks are in a row!’ time as every social services department in the country scrambled to see if they had a potential Baby P lurking in their files.

And Southend did, but still seemingly missed it despite this additional pressure:
The review into the Southend case concluded the mother was known to social services, having been in and out of care herself. She had a history of alcohol abuse, self-harm, multiple pregnancies, terminations and criminal convictions.

While pregnant, she was deemed to have made herself intentionally homeless, so little was done to help the woman and her unborn child, beyond arranging short-term stays in hostels. This made it more difficult for health visitors to keep track of her.

The review found the mother suffered mental illness, as well as domestic and substance abuse. Even though these factors should have triggered a referral to social services, none was made.
And, just as in other cases, even when members of the public finally did the job these ‘expert professionals’ were paid to do, it was still too late:
The report said a witness, known to police, was said to have contacted social services three days before Baby Robert’s death, raising concerns.

The review concluded local health services had become too “desensitised” after dealing with high numbers of homeless patients affected by domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse and mental health problems.

The summary said: “The high level of need made it even more difficult to identify the most vulnerable of these individuals, resulting in the mother’s unborn child’s needs being minimised.”

It said social services had focused too much on the homelessness of the mother, and added “other services had failed to recognise the safeguarding needs of Baby Robert”.
Yeah, yeah. Heard it all before. Are we ‘Learning lesso…’

Oh. Of course we are:
Southend Council has said improvements have been made since the tragedy. Bosses said there were many more referrals after the death of Baby P and many careworkers left the profession because of the case.

However, corporate director for children and learning, Sue Cook, said new measures have now been put in place to cope with increased demand.
And when they fail too, will you come up with a new excuse?
“We introduced new arrangements in the summer of 2010 to better cope with large fluctuations in demand.

“We have a very stable and committed workforce with a staff turnover rate of 3.6 per cent, which is extremely low for social work. We are very proud of our social workers.”
I can’t figure out why.


cornishstu said...

Is it just me, but when you hear of these incidences, it seems quite obvious that the children require help yet when you get a more stable
family unit, social services are only too willing to whisk the children into care, quite often on mere hearsay.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, it's only when a child dies that we get any publicity about the failings of social workers.

This is their default, standard, accepted level of practice!

Why do I say that? Because I've been there and got the T-shirt.

My ex and I separated due to her mental health problems, alcohol problems and criminal activities (yes I know, but I didn't know when I met her, she became pregnant, so I did the decent thing and then stayed for my son).

She, of course was given custody - men only get custody from the family court if the woman doesn't want it, whatever the woman is like (thanks to the biased social workers of CAFCASS).

My son was threatened and injured by his mother and her drinking 'friends'. I reported it to Childrens Services. What did they do? Yes, they investigated me! Her, she got some more benefits (Oh they didn't tell me or involve me as it is standard, accepted practice not to involve or inform fathers!)

Then my sons school reported their concerns after her injuring him. I wasn't informed. Guess what? Yep, a clean bill of health for her (without any investigation), me? I was documented as having made a 'malicious accusation', this despite the fact I hadn't made the report and didn't even find out about it until two years later.

I took the department to tribunal. The result? They admitted not following the guidelines, statutory or otherwise, they admitted not doing the most basic checks, they admitted having excluded me as a father. Their statement on simply accepting her word was "the truth or otherwise of a statement made by a mother is irrelevant, all we are required to do is document what is said by her accurately".

The result? They admitted not doing their jobs but 'Ah well, tough, we're not going to correct it', no we won't remove libelous and admittedly false statements about the father as we can't be bothered, and the child gets to stay with a violent, mentally ill, alcoholic women (coz wimmins rights trump a childs welfare anyday, innit!) and the incompetent social worker? Yes, promoted FFS.

Social workers are all politically correct, ideologically led, biased, incompetent, lazy a**holes.

Oh, see how the social worker involved will get promoted, just you watch.

Lord T said...

It clear that one of the itemson the checklist is staff turnover. Ability to do the job isn't there I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Low job turnover may just be something to do with the fact that when all is said and done, the social workers' job in Southend isn't as demanding in other places so why leave for areas with more problems?

I bet there are some really shite places to work in and unless you are moving for promotion, best to stay put.

JuliaM said...

"...yet when you get a more stable family unit, social services are only too willing to whisk the children into care, quite often on mere hearsay."

It does indeed seem totally unbalanced.

"... and the incompetent social worker? Yes, promoted FFS."


"Low job turnover may just be something to do with the fact that when all is said and done, the social workers' job in Southend isn't as demanding in other places so why leave for areas with more problems?"

Given the way Southend's going, that may not hold true for much longer...

Anonymous said...

My ex-wife had custody of our child, despite breaching court orders over access it was me who was constantly criticized. I warned them over her mental state.

6 years later and he is living with me following maternal abuse. He's had the counselling and all that but what long-term damage is done i don't know.

I should be mega angry and throwing my toys out the pram. I'm not as i know what a great act she put on and she could easily fool people. It is a big thing to take a child off of a parent. And the feckless keep having children without taking responsibility. There will always be cases which slip through the net.

The system could not cope with taking children off every family who were, alcoholics, dug takers, involved in crime, connected to 'gangsters' etc. The phrase is 'managing risk'....doesn't always work and it can't.

Imagine having 20 cases on the go...all with the potential to end in tragedy.