Monday, 13 April 2015

Social Services staff snoop into confidential files

"The overarching concept of Getting it right for every child is that of a common, co-ordinated approach across all agencies that supports the delivery of appropriate, proportionate and timely help to all children as they need it."

"The practice model includes a structure for gathering and recording information on children and their families." (ALL children and their families)

Unfortunately the co-ordinated Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach did not deliver appropriate, proportionate and timely help for Mikaeel Kular and at least nine social services staff have been fired for breaching confidentiality rules.

Fife Council dismissed the workers for accessing documents about the three-year-old’s murder at the hands of his mother, Rosdeep Adekoya, 34, in January last year.
Mikaeel died from internal injuries after he was repeatedly punched by his mother following a trip to a restaurant. Adekoya is now behind bars after being convicted of battering him to death.
Council chiefs are said to have taken swift action after a probe found the workers had looked at files without permission. Confirmation of the sackings comes as a separate independent review continues into whether Mikaeel’s death could have been prevented. 

One of the most frequent criticisms made against GIRFEC is that it will flood the system with trivial information about low level wellbeing concerns, making it difficult to notice those few indications of significant risk to vulnerable children. Gathering lots of data is one thing; reading the signs is something else. There is a need to raise the threshold of concern so that attention is focused on high risk cases. We know that Mikaeel was known to social workers but somehow he fell off the radar when the family moved from Fife to Edinburgh.

Lord Laming has noted:
"There are definite advantages to electronic record keeping in place of the previous often inaccessible paper files. Technology offers the potential for professionals to share information more effectively, to make information more accessible, and to use systems to manage the workflow of children’s services."

There are also disadvantages to electronic record keeping and a system that encourages data sharing across different agencies. As the snooping into Mikaeel Kular`s file illustrates, it will not be possible to eradicate abuses - there is always the human element - and this will make all children in Scotland vulnerable to those with ulterior motives. There is no good reason why children who do not urgently require services should be put at risk. GIRFEC is a bad idea.


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