Are there any sensible lessons being learned following the Baby P fiasco?

So much went wrong in this particular case that it’s hard to know where to even start.

The social services have an awful lot to answer for in this one. For a start, although they didn’t directly kill Peter clearly their inept actions contributed to his death, one wonders whether a number of those involved shouldn’t be residing in jail somewhere at the moment? No, it won’t bring Peter back but it would send the strongest message to the social services people everywhere that the key social service that they should be providing isn’t money, it’s the protection of life. Disciplinary action is all very well but some jail time meted out is a much stronger message and one that seems more appropriate in this instance.

Related to this seems to be their inbuilt bias in favour of the underpriviliged. I don’t dispute that the social services generally are needed to support those on hard times, but their “keep the mother with the child” regardless of circumstances approach obviously didn’t work too well in this case. I’d also question their bias in favour of mothers too. We’d not have heard anything about Peter had his father been able to keep him and that’s how I’m sure we’d all have wished it to be. It’s definitely better for a child to be with a parent rather than being in care but that parent shouldn’t always have to be the mother as seems to be the case now.

Crazy as it seems, this attitude is what probably led to the doctor giving the killers the benefit of the doubt and thereby missing the injuries. That benefit of the doubt isn’t given to normal families as I found out when accused by a midwife of abusing my own son and frankly we felt at some risk of having him taken into care despite 1) him having no injuries and 2) the supposed abuse being merely a side-effect of him being born breech.

Then there’s the Orwellian handling of the case or rather information about the case as it’s proceeded. The court required all information that would identify the killers to be removed from websites around the world. Frankly the only thing that succeeded in doing was to create a feeling of revisionist history reminiscent of Orwell’s novel and has merely driven public commentary about the case to places like this. Even now, the notorious boyfriend can only be referred to as “the boyfriend” because he’s appealing against his conviction. Well, you would if you were him, wouldn’t you? After all, with the strong feelings that this case has generated his life in jail seems likely to be rather short and with an extremely unpleasant end.

That concealing of information is a major failing of this case. For instance, the government report couldn’t be handed out because it would identify some of the social workers. Let’s not forget that some of these people should be in jail; protecting them in this merely serves to let the authorities off the hook in terms of bringing the appropriate people to court. Thus, we only have the head of the social services section named (Liz Santry who one suspects won’t be a councilor after the next election).

Lot’s of lessons to be learned for sure. Let’s hope that the same mistakes aren’t repeated anytime soon.

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