Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Three Star Disgrace
So Haringey Council has done it again. Eight years on from the Victoria Climbie scandal, their social service department has allowed another defenceless child to be horrifically murdered.
Frankly, we find the details of Baby P's case too distressing to read, and it seems nobody comes out of it well. But it beggars belief that Haringey Social Services decided to leave the child with his drug addict "slob" mother, even though he was on the "at-risk" register, and even after the police had advised he should be removed.
This case once again highlights three points we're constantly blogging on BOM.
First, the public sector routinely shows itself incapable of learning (eg see this blog ).
While we don't yet know all the facts, it's quite clear that the lessons of the Climbie case were not learned. And that despite the fact that it was the same council involved, and the Climbie case produced a raft of detailed procedural recommendations laid down in the subsequent public enquiry.
Second, once again it seems no individual - or even group of individuals - is reponsible. Instead, we're told it's The System that's failed.
It's the classic public sector response. From financial disasters, to IT failures, to avoidable battlefield deaths, the opening bid is always that it's The System's fault (see previous blogs too numerous to mention, and our old friend).
Third, the £200m pa Audit Commission is totally and irredeemably useless (eg see this blog).
According the Commission's latest report on Haringey, the Council is three star and is improving well (see above). As we've said many times, all the AC's ratings ever tell us is how well individual councils have learned how to tick the Audit Commission's boxes. It should be wound up soonest.
But the very worst thing about this case is that, despite the new enquiry already ordered by Children's Minister Beverley Hughes (someone else we we can't seem to shake off), we know for certain that things will carry on pretty much as is. Baby's P's death will change nothing.
PS There is of course one other point we used to blog, until we stopped ourselves. A maximum sentence of 14 years for the brutal murder of an infant is in no way sufficient.