Incompetence Discovered At Every Stage Of The Child Protection Process

The latest news is that more than a third of all police investigations into child abuse have just been deemed inadequate by a reviewing body looking into the matter. To make things worse, incompetence was detected at every level of the child protection process with the worst responses to child abuse relating to online offences. 

In one case, police and social workers went ahead and made their own medical diagnosis of a vulnerable four year old child, without consulting a doctor and some police forces were treating complainants as criminals rather than potential victims of abuse. 

You can catch the headlines below:

Child Poverty – Statements, Targets and Commentary

Child welfare has been a feature of today’s business inside Westminster as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, made a statement in the House of Commons which outlined a new strategy for measuring child poverty.

Not surprisingly, the Conservative government feels this is a positive step, one which they say would help to identify the root causes of child poverty, however the opposition doesn’t agree and sees the move as callous and an all time low for the Nasty Party.

It’s not quite clear yet what the full impact of these new measures will be, but the likely cut in tax credits will certainly hit the poorest families and can only lead to more child poverty, and not less. Of concern too, was our discovery in May of this year that the government fully intended to redefine poverty by resetting the statutory targets already in place, in effect lowering them to make it appear as if targets are closer to being met. The jaw dropping phrase on Parliament’s website which we spotted, was this:

“If the new Government were to accept that the existing [child poverty] targets are not going to be met, it could amend the Child Poverty Act to introduce new, more realistic targets.”

We leave it to you to decide whether the government is doing the right thing when it comes to child poverty, or simply looking to slash the deficit at great cost to the nation.

Here are some interesting items on the topic:

Child  poverty

Question It!

Hello and welcome to another week.

It is expected that the Crown Prosecution Service will officially announce legal proceedings against Lord Janner today, and with that mounting pressure for Alison Saunders to resign. Saunders, who is the Director of Public Prosecutions, took the view that Lord Janner’s dementia was too severe for him to face trial.

David Perry QC, the barrister who subsequently reviewed the files and took the view that a trial should take place, is a senior figure who advises the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government’s law officers. Prior to Mr Perry’s investigations, Eleanor Laws QC, a barrister who specialises in child abuse law was tasked with looking at the evidence and also took the view there should be a trial.

Our question to you then, is this: Do you think Alison Saunders should step down from her job if legal proceedings against Lord Janner begin? 

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Downing Street Respond To Baby Jonas Petition

We recently wrote about a petition which was created by Jonas Stadden’s parents to ask the government to look into the unusual death of their baby son, and we can now share the response from Downing Street with you.

Jonas Stadden, who suffered with Down’s Syndrome until he passed away last year in less than clear circumstances, was separated from his family and sent to live with foster carers as he awaited the outcome of his own adoption proceedings. Arriving perfectly healthy at his new home, he soon became ill and seven months later, he collapsed and died.

The Staddens were never given full and frank information surrounding the death of their son, and so they decided to create a petition asking for a proper inquiry into Jonas’s passing, which they handed to Downing Street last week.

The response does not even come from the Prime Minister himself, rather his comms team, and as you might imagine, the letter indicates that the Staddens’ concerns will need to be dealt with by other departments. We very much hope this petition won’t simply go round and round until it stops being passed on without the proper consideration it deserves.

You can read the letter below:

Stadden Letter

Many thanks to Maggie Tuttle and Jonas Stadden’s mother for kindly allowing us to print the letter.

BREAKING: Lord Janner Will Face Investigation

In a move which will please those concerned by the recent decision not to investigate Lord Janner and his part in the nation’s child sexual abuse scandal, it would appear that the decision will be overturned and an investigation is to get underway.

Tweeting a headline from tomorrow’s papers, Nick Sutton, editor of BBC Radio 4’s World At One headed his tweet with the news item attached, “Detail from front of Saturday’s Daily Mail Exclusive – Janner WILL face justice by @mailwright”.

The article from The Mail goes on to say that a senior barrister who has examined all of the evidence has come to the conclusion that there should be a hearing over the allegations.

Janner is accused of a series of sex offences against children, a list which appears to keep growing.

More on this story as and when we get it.

Update: as of Saturday 27th June, the CPS have yet to conclude their review of the decision not to charge Lord Janner and have not yet given a date for the completion of their own investigations. 

Janner Justice

Are Religious Morals and Childhood Obesity Forms of Child Abuse?

We’ve just come across some very interesting news stories across the globe on child abuse and the boundaries of such abuse and thought they would make for great Friday contemplation….

The first news items suggests that teaching Christian morals to children is child abuse. The thinking behind this is that some of the teachings and popular customs and rituals may be sending out damaging messages. Of course, we could apply this perspective to all organised religion and of course political movements, too. So, what do you think? Are movements in general dangerous for young minds, should we draw the line somewhere and seek to address persistent flaws in modern-day thinking and ritual or should we prevent the state from interfering and allow parents to raise their children as they wish?

The second piece considers the view that childhood obesity is also a form of abuse. This item comes off the back of court rulings in Australia, where child protection workers can use childhood obesity as a way to remove a child from the home and be placed under state or clinical supervision. This raises questions about social engineering and where we draw the line when it comes to child abuse. It also asks us to consider the meaning of abuse – whether it is an active intent on the part of parents, or a byproduct of ignorance or even a cry for help in situations where parents need support, too. If allowing a child to become obese is a form of abuse, then perhaps we can also include lack of exercise and even the choice of foods parents select when feeding their children. Where do you think we should draw the line?

Vishambar Mehrotra’s Moving Speech For Westminster Child Abuse Inquiry Conference

There are few worse things that can happen to a parent than losing a child and then discovering that he has been murdered, and possibly sexually abused beforehand, but that is the terrible nightmare Vishambar Mehrotra and his family live with, daily.

Vishambar’s son Vishal went missing when he was eight, in 1981, and eventually parts of his body were found in a woodland in West Sussex in February 1982, seven months after he vanished. There was no trace of his legs, pelvis or lower spine or of his outer clothes or Superman underwear

At the time, Mr Mehrotra received a call from a male prostitute who claimed Vishal may have been taken by paedophiles to the Elm Guest House near Barnes Common. The man mentioned that judges and politicians were abusing little boys there. Vishal’s father then tried, unsuccessfully, to get the police to investigate his son’s disappearance. No-one would help.

Convinced that there was a cover up at work, Mr Mehrotra continues to campaign for a full and proper investigation into his son’s death. As such, he offered to write a statement for the recent White Flowers Group conference inside Westminster which was instigated to pressure the government into prioritising child sexual abuse investigations, and it is very moving.

We add the statement below:

“For nearly 34 years I had relied completely upon the integrity and competence of the Police. Recently however in the last few months, several matters have come to light, not to mention a very highly redacted report of a review conducted by Sussex police in 2005 which has raised far more questions and in my submission, shed a bad light on the integrity and competence of the Police department.

I understand that my son’s investigation did not even deserve a case number.

Ever since recent revelations by other victims and in particular Tom Swarbrick of the LBC’s investigation, have opened my eyes to the possibility of serious misgivings/negligence by the Police.

There are strong suggestions and your eminent speakers today would probably concur with this view that cover ups have happened.

I thought I had emotionally come to terms with the loss of my son but now all I can do is have nightmares imagining the events that must have led to my son’s murder and the questions that keep bothering me, how, when and where, which nobody seems to know.

We seem to be now concentrating on the ‘why’ of this enquiry.

34 years in a very long time and many have passed on. I do not consider that I am going to get any relief of joy from the Police force or in fact the IPCC unless there is a re-investigation carried out.

I am now concerned more than ever that in light of yesterday’s revelations on the new that the number of Child Sexual Abuse cases which have come to light are alarming to say the least.

Parents beware The Police blame the Politicians for not giving them enough money and resources and the Politicians want to set up committees which I understand can take up to 8 years for any report to be submitted (I am talking about Lady Goddard).

Finally I feel extremely strongly that the time has come for the Met Police to form a small team of highly experienced investigating officers and forensic specialists to investigate all such heinous crimes committed and to ensure that the people who are committing such offences are caught quickly, lest this cancer be to allowed to fester and spread.

I wish you and the Whiteflowers Campaign Group all success and i believe you are doing an excellent job of bringing awareness to the public.

Last but not least I cannot understand why after 34 years the Police continue to be so secretive that even I am forbidden to see an unredacted report on my sons disappearance and murder.
Regards,
V Mehrotra”

With deep thanks to Terri Thatcher and Mr Mehrotra for allowing us to share this statement.

Voice of the Child Conference 2015

It’s that time of the year when the Voice of the Child Conference is almost upon us, and this year it takes place on July 23rd, with the theme of “Effective Participation: Make it happen – Make it better.”

Whilst we have absolutely no clue who wrote the article announcing the conference on the Cafcass website (which is a little unfortunate as they talk about themselves in the first person), the day is set to be designed so that professionals can reflect on their practice and find ways to make it better. President of the Family Division James Munby will be in attendance.

Researching Reform are champions of this conference – it is the only one around dedicated to the Voice of the Child – but now that they are in their fifth year, we need to see some measure of its impact. Tell us what changes have been made as a result of the annual meetings, how children are responding to the system and what benefits have accrued five years on from the conference’s inception.

It must surely be time.

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Child Abuse Inquiry: Goddard Issues Guidance On Destruction Of Documents

Inquiry Chair Justice Goddard has just published guidance on the destruction of documents relating to child sexual abuse, as held by Government and other agencies.

She has written to Whitehall, Religious Leaders, the Police, the NHS and heads of Local Authorities. You can read the letters here.

The guidance is quite broad and requires each department or body to refrain from destroying documents that could offer vital clues and direction to the Inquiry itself.

The inquiry website offers this helpful introduction to the measure:

“On announcing the statutory Inquiry, the Home Secretary requested a moratorium on the destruction of material. Today (23rd June) the Inquiry sent out further guidance on the detail of what may or may not be destroyed across Government and by other agencies.

These letters have been sent to both the Cabinet Secretary and other relevant organisations setting out categories of documentation that must be kept pending further requests from the Inquiry.”

The most up to date Terms of Reference for the Inquiry can also be read here.

Lowell Goddard, Chair for the Statutory Inquiry Into Child Abuse

Lowell Goddard, Chair for the Statutory Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse

Summary Of White Flowers Westminster Meeting On Nation’s Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse

In what is a very good summary, Newsweek have published details of the most recent White Flowers Westminster meeting urging politicians to put the nation’s Statutory Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse at the top of their agenda.

The event, which took place yesterday, was heated, with panel members and survivors pressuring the government to keep focusing on the inquiry. The White Flowers Group asked the government to respond to the following demands:

  • Full legal representation for survivors,
  • The amendment of the Official Secrets Act implemented, to make sure it does not cover historical allegations of child sexual abuse, and
  • Greater measures to protect and support whistleblowers, as well as the prompt prosecution of Lord Greville Janner, who was deemed unfit to stand trial earlier this year

The event was attended by politicians, lawyers, activists and survivors of child abuse, many of whom spoke and which included Michael Mansfield QC, Sam Stein QC, John Mann MP, Dr Lisa Cameron of the Scottish National Party,  Sarah Champion, the MP for Rochdale and leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett. The meeting was chaired by Phil Frampton, the co-director of White Flowers Group.

The outcome over whether a review of the decision of the director of public prosecutions not to charge Lord Janner has been successful is due to be made known next week.

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