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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Thick? Callous? No shame? Clueless? Can’t accept responsibility? You should do well at stalag Haringey - or maybe in the government

If you're unfamiliar with what's going on in Britain I should explain that a 17 month old baby - called "P" - was tortured to death by his so called mother and lovers (one of whom was a Nazi fan) in Haringey, a North London suburb.

On the Haringey website it says: "The safety of children and young people is a matter for everyone - not just those who work in the child protection service.

If you are worried about a child for any reason, contact us and talk about your concerns. Please do not keep your worries to yourself."

This is a mistake obviously. What they meant was "The safety of children and young people is a matter for everyone - except those who work in the child protection service.

If you are worried about a child for any reason, don't waste time talking to us because our boss doesn't think it's any of her business. Keep your worries to yourself."

You see, this little baby died from repeated beatings despite being on Haringey's "at risk" register. By the sound of it, I imagine, you just have to move there to get on that list - and get the help of "social workers".

Mind you, you're not much better off further North. This happened two days after social workers in West Yorkshire were criticised for failing to save four-year-old Leticia Wright, who was tortured to death by her mother, Sharon Wright, and her boyfriend, Peter McKenzie-Seaton

Social workers had, it seems, 60 chances to spot and stop the torture of baby P – and did nothing. The Director of Haringey’s Children and Young People’s Service since April 2005, Sharon Shoesmith, refused to apologise or resign over the baby’s death.

She said she was just a “facilitator”. Of what? Torture, apparently, since the department she so clearly fails to run did nothing to stop it.

When sixty years ago the Nazis defended themselves against slaughtering millions in their holiday camps they said they were just following orders … it was never their responsibility.

People nearby would say they didn’t know what was going on. They had excuses, too - and one was very compelling. They would say it was nothing to do with them; but more to the point, they couldn’t have stopped it if they tried, which would have been very dangerous anyhow.

But what about people who are paid to stop appalling cruelty, and can't be bothered, or even say "it's nothing to do with me"? At least the people who turned a blind eye in Germany were not employed to prevent it.

But Sabah al-Zayyat, consultant paediatrician was. She - the last doctor to see Baby P alive, two days before his death - didn't notice a broken back and ribs. She thought the baby had a cold. And the examination "could not be completed" because the baby was “miserable and cranky”. What a surprise, and how awful that a doctor should have to deal with cranky babies. It shouldn't be allowed. Sabah used to have a senior job at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, by the way. Bit of a worry.

Then there is Maria Ward appointed social worker for Baby P on February 2, 2007, and making her first visit 20 days later. Baby P’s mother reassured her that she was OK. Four days before Baby P died, Ms Ward found him in his pushchair with chocolate all over his face and hands.

The chocolate was to cover up the bruises. Ms Ward was happy to leave the boy with his mother because she appeared to be "co-operative and properly supported" whatever that means. She still works at Haringey Council.

And how about Paulette Thomas, the health visitor who saw the boy only four times in six months but did a one-year check and reported “no concerns”. Gilly Christou a “team manager” – what a team! - at Haringey Social Services, reported in March that the baby “appears to have a high pain threshold”.

She said: “It is concerning he does not seem to react to danger or pain. Only his mother can stop him, he does not seem to stop himself”

What a dreadful bunch. Are they graded for stupidity before being taken on?

You just know, don't you, that those responsible at higher levels were warned, but did nothing. A lawyer acting for M/s Nevres Kemal, a former social worker at Haringey, wrote to then health secretary Patricia Hewitt - and three other ministers in the shambles she ran - calling for an investigation into the authority's failings in dealing with child abuse cases.

"Statutory child protection procedures are not being followed. Child sex abusers are not being tackled," said the letter sent to Ms Hewitt last February. Did Hewitt do anything? A glance at her record will give you a sure-fire answer. Like a good Bliar Babe, she ordered an enquiry, and all those bodies with meaningless initials that clog up the running of this country started passing the parcel.

The letter was passed to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), which wrote back suggesting the matter should be referred to the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) which regulates social care in England.

"Our records show that we received a letter dated February 16th 2007 that was forwarded to us from the Department of Health, detailing an employment tribunal issue with Haringey Council, and containing an allegation that child protection procedures were not being followed in Haringey," the department said. (Who the fuck pays all these useless minions? We do.)

"The permanent secretary of the DCSF has looked at the reply and is confident that the proper procedures were followed." Well, that's OK, then. If the procedures were followed, how could anything go wrong.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) said it raised the allegation directly with Haringey at a formal meeting and was satisfied the council had dealt properly with the case.

The rot clearly infests Haringey, because this the second such case in 8 years. There was a dreadful scandal after eight-year-old Victoria Climbie was maltreated and murdered by her guardians in 2000, and everything (the procedures, anyhow) was tightened up. Or not, as the case turned out.

Good to know that those of who work in the real world will be helping to pay the guaranteed pensions of creatures like Shoesmith. Dare we hope that if by some happy accident someone gave her a good slapping a nearby policemen will say "Sorry, Miss, I'm just a facilitator."

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