There will be a meeting of the Highland Investigation at the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square, Academy Street, Inverness on Wednesday 24 October 2016 at 7pm. Anybody who is interested in helping the investigation or who wants to find out more is welcome. David Scott will be attending.
"Right," Mike Robinson begins: "To lead into David`s stuff mainly we`re just going to highlight this little article from Demos here:
Commissioning in Children`s Services - What Works? So Demos the think tank, what are they saying? They`re saying:"
"Despite significant policy attention and political action, looked after children and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) remain some of the most vulnerable children in the country with their later life outcomes - social, educational and health related - remaining stubbornly poor. It is no coincidence that in Ofsted`s inspections of local authority children`s services departments from November 2015 to March 2016, three-quarters were given one of the two bottom ratings: `requires improvement` or `inadequate`. These failings have profound impacts on the lives of children and young people."
"Two sets of pressures are putting children`s services departments under considerable strain. First, demand for children`s social care is rising. Between 2008 and 2015, local authorities saw a 22 per cent rise in referrals and a 16 per cent increase in the number of children in care. - That statistic alone is spectacular Brian. - It is not only the volume of demand but the kind of demand that is exerting pressure: the needs of looked after children are becoming more complex, and the introduction of Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs), although a positive move forward, require local authorities to think more creatively about how they will meet the needs of children with SEND."
"Of course, part of the problem there is that demand particularly for children with special educational needs is being driven by the fact that extra benefits are given and there`s pressure on parents to actually register their children as requiring special educational needs. And second they say local authorities are facing continued and severe cuts to their budgets. And so what do they go on to talk about ? They basically go on to talk about the privatisation of care in children`s services. And this is particularly dangerous of course because once that type of thing ends up in private hands we get even less oversight..."
Brian Gerrish joins in: "Well, of course, at the moment some of the most vulnerable children with multiple special needs are being looked after by private companies [because they] can be earning 230, 40, 50, 60 thousand pounds a year per child. So this is big money business." David Scott is asked what he thinks about that.
"Well all these things - when you`re dealing with a government that has coercive powers of taxation - so they`re taking money essentially at the pointy end of a bayonet and then that`s being distributed, not controlled in any way by the people for their collective benefit, but being siphoned off to well connected private interests. You have really the worst of both worlds. You have all the drive of the private sector but rather than being a drive towards satisfying customers, the customers, in fact, become a commodity and their only drive is to satisfy politicians. [It] is an invitation to corruption on a vast scale."
"This is one of the first areas we have been looking at in the Highland Investigation," explains David Scott. "And we`re putting this up here today just as an indication of the sort of information we`re seeing. We`ve got a huge amount of information coming forward and we hope to have more when we meet folk next week ... in Inverness..."
David Scott does not actually read out the emboldened section but I think it is highly relevant since the Named Person pilot was on the go at the time. It looks more like the authorities were trying to find something `on` the family rather than dealing with the bullying.
The Docherty family
"She`s done nothing to help the Dochertys. She may have been doing quite a lot to harm the Dochertys; we`re not quite sure because obviously it`s all secret; but certainly nothing to help. Now we haven`t heard from the Dochertys for three weeks. We`re getting very concerned about their safety; whether they are... ok and breathing the free air of Ireland, or not. We don`t know."
"It illustrates ... here you had a family who`ve had their four children violently seized... without any lawful excuse by a foreign state; Nicola Sturgeon does nothing. We have one family who has a minor dispute over a visa application and Nicola Sturgeon puts them on the stage at the party conference. She takes part... She leads a standing ovation as they walk on to the stage... "