Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The transformation of Rotherham children`s services

Brian Gerrish, Mike Robinson and Alex Thomson are speaking on UK Column News:

"Well, let`s come on to the subject of child abuse. Nothing to worry about Mike because Ofsted has produced its report on Rotherham and here`s the headline: `Rotherham children`s services are `transformed`. So there we are. That`s the problem all solved according to `the quality and impact` report.  Services for children are transformed. `Children at risk of sexual exploitation were identified and received an `effective multi-agency response to protect them`."

"I`m going to say focus on the word `transformed` ... because in my opinion this is what this whole thing is about. It`s nothing to do with protecting the children."

"Let`s pop back for a moment and see what was really going on. Well children being abused and when this was about to blow, here`s the action of the council staff. They seized files and wiped computers to cover up the scale of child sex grooming. So this is the reality of it. Children were being abused and then officials took information and then destroyed it to hide the crime. So we`re talking criminal activity. People threatened. UKIP MEP sent death threats after slamming Rotherham Council over child abuse scandal."

"We`ve got this one here. Researcher who tried to expose Rotherham abuse `feared for life after police officers` threat`. So the reality of Rotherham is not only that children were abused but officials, many of whom should have been protecting the children, were prepared to commit further criminal acts in order to cover up the crime. But not to worry, because everything`s been solved now. `Ofsted has praised action taken by a children`s services department to improve its child protection work since being rated `inadequate` two years ago`."

"So criminal activity was then labelled `inadequate` and now we`ve solved the inadequacy of the organisation by transforming it. And how do we do this? Well, we bring in a government appointed commissioner, Patricia Bradwell. So you can have a look at her. She`s worked in other local government offices. Children`s Services for Lincolnshire County Council. And what was she going to do? Well now we get a clue." 

"`The Council to have strong and supportive partnerships which are underpinned by a common vision ensuring clarity on roles and responsibilities both individually and collectively."

"That would be a Common Purpose," interrupts Mike Robinsons.

"Yes, it`s all about partnerships and collective leadership. The second paragraph. `There`s clearly been a step change in partnership working through better leadership`. So we forget the children; we`re now into changing the management structure into this collaborative collective partnership working. So this is politicisation of the whole thing."

"This is the report itself which you can find on the internet. So I encourage people to go and have a look at it and read it for themselves. This is some of the sort of thing it says:"

"Risks posed to children and young people by domestic abuse and high-risk adults are considered effectively in multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) and multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA). The local authority responds immediately to domestic abuse concerns through effective early screening in the MASH - So nobody who was originally involved in failing in their job to protect the children - nobody who was abusing the children - has been brought to book but what we`ve now done is brought in this highly interlinked management structure which is bringing all the agencies together with no separation of powers."

Mike Robinson:  "It was interesting that this morning on the Today programme, Brian, one of the people who was involved in this review was being asked questions. It was a pre-recorded interview on the Today programme, and as usual, the presenter said `I began by asking are any of the staff that were .... at Rotherham at the time still there? And his answer was `No. Seventy five percent of them are still there`. So she said: Are any of the staff still there? He said `No.` So that wasn`t the question she asked. So what she was trying to get into people`s minds was the idea that there had been some kind of purge of staff.  But this has never happened." 

"Correct Mike and we picked up on this...Let`s move on to the next bit here."

"The majority of assessments seen by inspectors, both in early help and where children are in need of help and protection, were of good quality.  So the majority. When you read through this report you will see that there are still problems but that gets pushed into the background because everything`s OK because we`ve changed the management structure."

"In this extract on screen it says this: `Assessments for a small number of children are not considering the impact of cumulative risks, particularly in respect of domestic abuse. Children`s voices are not always explicit. I don`t know what that means. I think I might know what it means, but I`m not too sure. Alex, linguistics is your expertise. What are these people saying here?" 

Alex Thomson: "Ah. This technique is known as disguising the subject. So there is deliberately no mention ... it`s the topic that`s missing here. The subject of the sentence is grammatically `the children`s voices` but the topic, which is who`s actually concerned, who is doing here, is not mentioned. I would take this as standard legalese as `... `We have a right to speak for the children."

Brian Gerrish: "... Of course the children are supposed to have a voice in child protection matters ... the view of the child we are supposed to believe is paramount. I think as you do here that actually the children`s opinion is simply now being shut out..."

"We spoke to Ofsted this morning and sent them this email."

"Dear Ofsted Media Team,"

"I have read public media articles concerning the latest glowing Ofsted report which state that Rotherham Children`s Services have been transformed."

"I am however also told that no Councillor or Officer holding responsibility during the period of serious failings and harm to children has resigned or been replaced - can you please confirm this is correct."

"I am also told that there has been no formal investigation into the individuals with key overall responsibility for serious failures leading to harm of children nor has there been any court or legal proceedings against them - can you please confirm this is correct."

"I understand that even as the latest Ofsted report has been released and noting that Commissioner Patricia Bradwell has stressed that transparency will be an important part of the `transformational` improvement of services, Rotherham Children`s Social Services are withholding information concerning child protection cases so as to cover-up ongoing failings - can you please comment on these serious allegations."

"I understand that Rotherham Children`s Services are refusing to fully engage with members of the public expressing concern at ongoing failings in their services - can you please comment on these allegations."

"These last two questions have particular significance in view of the fact that even where recorded evidence exits of threats of harm to children Sheffield Children`s Services are allegedly covering up that abuse and are targeting the protective parent in favour of the aggressive parent. That such actions are taking place against the especially vulnerable parents within non English speaking refugee families is of great concern."


See programme here

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