A judge sitting at Sheffield Crown Court has likened Barnsley social services to Hitler’s paramilitary organisation, the Schutzstaffel, or SS, after a young girl who had expressed what were believed to be suicidal thoughts, was forced to have a naked medical examination. The social workers also failed to get her father’s consent for the medical, and several other related courses of action.
The council’s conduct left Judge Robert Moore fuming last Friday, after social workers wrongly accused the girl’s family of child sexual abuse, leading to the vulnerable six year old having to undergo humiliating and invasive procedures, which included the collection of swabs and having to stand for extended periods of time in uncomfortable positions. She was also temporarily prevented from seeing her grandfather. Judge Moore summed up his thoughts on the girl’s treatment, at the hearing:
“Social services were like the SS of Nazi Germany. They’re literally the SS in their name, and their manner of working is somewhat draconian.”
The girl’s mother, who was suffering from postnatal depression, had committed suicide ten weeks after giving birth. The girl told her nursery teachers that she wanted to ‘be with her mummy’, however the school did not make her father aware of the comment for several weeks.
The girl’s father was in court to appeal a conviction following a trial in March of this year, which found him guilty of harassing a Barnsley school’s headteacher. The father had been angry at the school for failing to tell him about his daughter’s comments in a timely fashion. Social Services then became involved on an unrelated child abuse allegation against the father, which led to the child protection investigation, even though the police had told social services that the allegation against the father was unfounded.
After the hearing, the father spoke to the Barnsley Chronicle about his experience:
“Despite previous investigations finding no evidence of any risk of sexual abuse, I was forced to allow Barnsley social services to take my daughter out of school and transport her to Barnsley Hospital where, without my consent, she was stripped naked and examined from head to foot…
The only abuse has been by Barnsley social services. My daughter told teachers she wanted to kill herself to see her mummy. What else was I meant to do other than try to get answers?
I was not made aware of her comment, which was disregarded as a flippant remark, for 20-odd days. We’re talking about a little girl here, my little girl, who I thought could have been wrongly taken away from me.”
The acronym “SS” for social workers, has been widely used by parents across the UK for several years, and is intended to draw parallels between social services here, with the now extinct military arm of Hitler’s Nazi party. The comparison has come about due to the often aggressive and callous treatment parents and children experience within social service departments around the country.
In a high profile judgment in 2013, the then President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, made an official statement on the use of the term:
“J was born at home on 4 April 2013, the local authority says against medical advice. The father announced J’s birth on Facebook. It included these words: “SS banging on the door we’re not answering” and “ss gone to get epo”. I very much doubt that ‘SS’ was here being used as an innocent acronym for the local authority’s social services. The internet is awash with strident criticism of local authorities, described as “the SS” or “SS”, where it is quite clear from the context that the reader is meant to link the activities of the local authorities being criticised with those of Hitler’s infamous SS. The comparison is grotesque and is, and I have little doubt is intended to be, offensive and insulting – grossly so. I make no such finding against the father in relation to this particular publication but I am willing to proceed on the assumption, though without finding, that the father’s intent was indeed to encourage readers to make the comparison.”
The nickname is now being embraced by members of the judiciary.
Many thanks to Ian Josephs for alerting us to this case.