It is certainly something we have mentioned before on Researching Reform, but the lack of care local authorities have been taking will inevitably come to haunt them, and it looks as if these floodgates are starting to creak open.
In an unsettling news article in Community Care, we are told that a council has had to pay one million pounds in damages for ‘shocking child abuse failings‘.In this case, Essex County Council had failed to protect four siblings from systematic child abuse – you can see the timeline of the case here. The case essentially revolved around the fact that the council did not discover the father’s conviction for sexual assault of his two young children from a previous marriage. A child protection investigation then took place, the conviction was uncovered, but regular contact between the siblings and the father was continued.We can only imagine the trauma these young children experienced, both in facing the reality of that contact and in trying, and failing, to find safety amongst the very adults who were meant to be protecting them. There must be a huge price to pay in terms of long-term damage to these children, not just in terms of the harm they suffered but also in terms of whether they will ever be able to trust anyone again.
This scenario is not new to us. We receive dozens of phone calls with distraught parents telling us their children are facing similar arrangements and social workers are just not listening. However, in order to compensate and deal with this, we sometimes see local authorities swing the other way and prevent contact outright, often without any convictions present, at all and no sound basis upon which to remove that contact. The truth is, social workers do a very difficult job, one, that in our opinion,often requires a great deal more training than they are given. Errors like this will continue to happen unless the government addresses this very point.
We also predicted last year that it would only be a matter of time before these floodgates would open and all the terrible errors made in relation to taking care of vulnerable families and children would come home to roost. It is not a prediction we relish coming true, but it is certainly a likelihood and others agree with us.
A very disturbing read. Please do take a look and as always we are very interested to hear what you think.