Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Scottish child abuse inquiry to begin

"ONE of the most long-awaited public inquiries to be held in Scotland is due to get under way tomorrow."

"The statutory inquiry into historical abuse of children in care will be headed by leading QC Susan O’Brien and is expected to last four years before reporting back to Cabinet Secretary for Education Angela Constance."

"It will investigate the abuse of children in formal institutional care including by religious orders, as well as council-run children’s homes and secure care."

"It will also extend to those in foster care, long-term hospital care and boarding schools."

"The inquiry, announced in December, will have the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence, and Constance previously pledged that where crimes are uncovered the "full force of the law’’ would be used to bring those responsible to justice."

"It comes after 15 years of relentless campaigning by victims of child abuse in orphanages stretching back decades and follows a pledge by the SNP in opposition that they would hold one when they took power."

"Last night a representative from one victims’ group said there was a sense of relief among survivors that the inquiry was finally getting under way, but also disappointment that it excluded certain aspects victims had wanted, including reparations for abuse they had suffered..."

"The inquiry suffered a setback in June when two religious orders launched a legal challenge over O’Brien’s appointment."

"The action by the Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth and the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul against Scottish ministers was later dismissed."

"O’Brien is best known for heading an investigation into the death of toddler Caleb Ness who was killed by his father in 2001."

"Her report found failings at almost every level in the handling of the infant’s case before his death, prompting a major overhaul of social-work services in Edinburgh..."

"Details of the inquiry’s hearings are to be made public and a website is also due to be launched."

"Previously public inquiries have been held into the Dunblane massacre, the cost of the Scottish Parliament building and the deaths of patients at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria ..."

"Earlier this year the Scottish Government promised that the inquiry would be `an opportunity to shine a light, where none has been before, on an appalling failure of many of Scotland’s children`."

"But Constance also came under increasing pressure to get the promised inquiry off the ground after the deaths of several former care residents, including a well-known campaigner Elizabeth McWilliams, and the ageing profile of the group."

The benefits of adventurous play

In the US parents worry about the financial implications of children`s accidents.


In Scotland, turning up at Accident and Emergency with a child might alert the Named Person and trigger an investigation into the family.

Child tax credits stopped because of Mum`s relationship with the post office

"Debbie Balandis says her child tax credits have been stopped because her bank account showed a 'Martin McColl' - the newsagents where she collects her benefits."

"A single mum has had her benefits stopped because the taxman believe she is in a relationship with her local SHOP."

"Debbie Balandis, 40, was shocked to receive a letter from HMRC saying her £140-a-week child tax credits would be stopped because she had a new man, the Daily Record reports."

"She immediately called the tax office and was told activity on her bank account showed a Martin McColl the trading name for her local newsagent chain RS McColl."

"The mum-of-two, from Glagow, tried to explain that she collects benefits from the post office at her local RS McColl and that was why the name appeared on her bank statements."

"But she was told her weekly payments were being stopped until she can prove Martin McColl isn’t her live-in lover."

Predictive crime analytics scheduled for trial in US

"The Sci-Fi predicted future of crime prevention is here. Hitachi has unveiled a system capable of predicting crimes before they actually occur. "

"Dubbed Hitachi Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics (PCA), the system is able to process huge amounts of data from a variety of sources and then process it using machine-learning to establish patterns of potential violent behavior that humans might simply overlook."

"`A human just can’t handle when you get to the tens or hundreds of variables that could impact crime,` Darrin Lipscomb, an executive in Hitachi’s Public Safety and Visualization division, told the Fast Company..."

"`Blending real-time event data captured from public safety systems and sensors with historical and contextual crime data from record management systems, social media and other sources, PCA's powerful spatial and temporal prediction algorithms help law enforcement and first responder teams assign threat levels for every city block,` the company said in a statement."

"Hitachi’s system is scheduled for trials at police departments across a number of US cities starting in October."

The data revolution is poised to transform the way governments, citizens, and companies do business we have been told, and surveillance systems are already in place in the UK.

For instance, facial recognition hardware is now in use by Leicestershire Police and was used to scan the faces of 90,000 people entering the Download rock festival this summer. Where are the images ?

Glasgow has the largest Operations Centre in Europe and is using what the industry calls `soft biometrics` which track characteristics such as height, weight, body geometry, scars, marks, tattoos, and so on, in order to identify persons of interest. Subjects can be tracked at a distance.

NICE Suspect Search was introduced in Glasgow to find lost children as part of the Child Safe Zone initiative; but the name is a give away, suspect search. The system will be able to accommodate predictive technologies.

Glasgow has sound sensors strategically placed on posts beside pedestrian crossings - picking up conversations maybe ? Who knows ?

As it happens predictive practices have been used more and more in child protection cases, beginning pre-birth, and allowing babies to be removed from their families pre-crime.

The state also expects nursery workers to predict future terrorists.

Behind prediction science there are always fallible human beings, whether they are simply asked to use their judgement or whether they are expected to write the algorithms; it`s dangerous.

21 months for partner of P.I.E. founder

"A former school teacher and long term partner of the founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for molesting an 11-year-old boy."

"Richard Alston, 70, met the now adult victim while working at Cavendish School for 'maladjusted boys' in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s."

"Together with his partner, Peter Righton, the pensioner forced the youngster to watch pornography and then perform sex acts on him."

"Alston was today sentenced to a total of 21 months in prison for one count of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child at Southwark Crown Court."

"Righton, who is now dead, was a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange - a group set up in the 1970s that campaigned to lower the age of consent."

"It was the investigation into Righton, who was convicted of importing child pornography in 1992, that led to MP Tom Watson using parliamentary privilege in 2012 to allege that there was 'clear intelligence' of a VIP child sex abuse ring..."

"Despite being cleared of a number of offences, Alston was convicted of incidents that took place when Righton was present and a participant."

"The court heard that Righton and Alston's friend Charles Napier - now a convicted paedophile - would also be present for some of the meetings with the boy."

"Last December, Napier, the half-brother of senior Conservative MP John Whittingdale, was jailed for 13 years for carrying out hundreds of sexual assaults on young boys..."

"In January 1979 in Aberdeen, Scotland, [Alston] was admonished - the equivalent of a caution in English law - after admitting one count of lewd, indecent, libidinous practices, namely placing his hand on a boy's thigh in the cinema."

Read more:


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Grieving son did not attend school often enough

"A MOTHER is facing jail because she could not make her grieving youngest son attend school often enough after the death of his father. "

"Tracey Fidler, a mother of five, campaigned for stiffer sentences for drink-driving after her fiancé Kris Jarvis, 39, was hit by a car travelling at 70mph while he was cycling in Purley on Thames, Berkshire, in February last year. "

"The driver, Alexander Walter, who was over the drink limit, was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison. "

"Now Fidler is being prosecuted by Reading borough council also the authority for which Jarvis had worked. "

"After the crash my youngest child, Adam, was in bits," she said yesterday.

"He didn’t want to leave me because he thought if he did I wouldn’t be there when he came back."

No plans for SEPA to monitor Underground Coal Gasification

Mel Kelly has received a reply from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to her Freedom of Information request on how SEPA plans to monitor Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) around the Firth of Forth.

"3.2 It was confirmed that the SEPA has not received any applications for Underground Coal Gasification activities and, at this time, no monitoring plans or processes specifically relating to UCG have been developed"

"Now another interesting point is it will be the companies that do the monitoring - but based on the Australian experience - when all 3 companies - 100% of the trials - deliberately withheld the fact they had caused environmental damage - breaching the planning and environmental rules for the trials - this proves the private operators cannot be trusted and surely proves for UCG - SEPA should be doing the monitoring - not the private operators - and as SEPA has not developed any way to monitor this the planning consent should not go ahead - the entire file attached the appendix at the end has other useful info - still got another 6 FOI outstanding for UCG monitoring with SEPA now - split the questions up - to get copies of files of meetings between SEPA and the UCG license holders, Coal Authority, H&S executive and any info they have got from Australia - which I think is zilch I'm sure the attached confirms unlike the officials in America the Scottish Parliament has not even contacted the Queensland government."
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Portable Document Format

Integrated children`s database for Dumfries and Galloway

"Schools, social workers and police will be able to access children’s confidential medical records in a new integrated database established by NHS Dumfries and Galloway."

"The move, which renews fresh fears over data sharing, has been described by the health board as a `pioneering achievement`."

"Graham Gault, General Manager ICT at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: `We now have a powerful and sophisticated tool to link children from records and datasets that use NHS numbers, social care numbers, police references, education references and any other type of identifier...`"

"NextGate, the US-based IT specialists who designed the database to fit with the Scottish Government’s ‘Getting it right for every child’ guidelines, said: `This project represents a major move forward in Scotland for delivering joined-up services. Population health relies on accurate, timely, and aggregated information.`"

"But Simon Calvert, spokesman for NO2NP, warned: `This is the Big Brother state writ large. Don’t these people realise how creepy it is to be boasting about how easy they’ve made it for officials to access highly sensitive data on children?`"

Read more and sign the petition

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Education statistics

The SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network) is a United Nations initiative which is interested in strengthening the quality and availability of statistics for management, programme design and monitoring performance.

They say:

"Both donors and recipient countries must look to join the data revolution. The unprecedented rate of innovation in data collection techniques and technologies and the capacity to distribute data widely and freely has expanded the horizon of possibility."

There are twelve thematic groups

Here is thematic group 4. 

Early Childhood Development, Education, and Transition to Work

It focuses on three areas:

(1) universal primary education

(2) early childhood learning and post-primary expansion

(3) training in basic numeracy and literacy as well as advanced 21st century skills (cognitive, analytical, social, cultural, civic and emotional.)

"The data revolution is poised to transform the way governments, citizens and companies do business."

Looking at (3) it is easy to see how Curriculum for Excellence and its joined up GIRFEC databases fits into this United Nations scheme.

Now another consultation has been launched in Scotland - there are so many - Digital learning and teaching strategy:

Its themes are: empowering leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching; improving access to digital technology for all learners; ensuring curriculum and assessment relevance in a digital context; extending the skills and confidence of teachers in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology.

It does not matter that the OECD`s education director Andreas Schleicher  has said that frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results than an improvement in pupils` performance. The experiment must continue.

The motivation to do so lies with those advanced 21st century skills, so-called, that world leaders are interested in manipulating and investigating: cognitive, analytical, social, cultural, civil and emotional. When the idea is to study the child, rather than to provide a traditional education, the ideal situation is to place the child in front of a computer and call it personalised learning; that way no teacher or parent can get in the way of their interactions.

Corbyn writes to PM about Ali Mohammed al-Nimr

Yesterday I wrote to David Cameron about the Saudi protester, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was arrested as a child in 2012...
Posted by Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday, September 26, 2015

Friday, 25 September 2015

Fracking and water: what`s the connection ?

Fracking is the process of breaking up underground rock using millions of gallons of water under extremely high pressure. Mel Kelly and Ian Crane discuss the issue in Scotland, beginning about 22 minutes into the video.


The `back door` privatisation of Scotland`s water has been slyly pushed through a bit at a time and all mainstream parties are implicated.

"Aside from the Conservatives no political party has openly declared itself in favour of the full privatisation of Scotland’s water industry. In fact the major parties said little in relation to water in their manifestos for the last Scottish election in 2003. Yet the two coalition parties in the Scottish Executive, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, introduced the Water Services (Scotland) Act in 2004 without signalling their intention to do so during the election. When one considers that this legislation effectively transferred power over the budgetary process to the WIC it is perhaps surprising that this was not put to the electorate during the previous years Scottish Election."

"Despite the volume of recent water legislation in Scotland the pressure for more changes to the governance structures of Scottish Water continues. "

Mel Kelly accuses Nicola Sturgeon of doing a deal with David Cameron to open up Scottish Water to UK wide marketisation during the last weeks in the run up to the Scottish referendum. Some devolved powers had to be handed back to Westminster to allow a change in the law. What does this say about the First Minister`s true stance on the Scottish independence issue?

As for fracking:

"Since the moratorium was called, the Scottish Government has refused to address a series of concerns from MSPs over what the moratorium means in practice. It remains unclear whether test drilling for fracking is covered, with chemical giant Ineos keen to push ahead with plans to explore shale gas reserves in the Grangemouth area. John Wilson, the independent MSP who has seen his own questions ignored for months, said this week that ministers' refusal to answer questions was simply unacceptable`."

"The SNP has also been criticised from within its own ranks for omitting underground coal gasification, a separate process that sees coal seams set alight underground and gas extracted, from its moratorium. A grassroots SNP members' group was set up this week and is aiming to persuade the leadership to take a tougher stance."

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Social worker wilfully neglected a child

"A social worker has been struck off after she was cautioned by police for wilfully neglecting a child in her care."

"The social worker, who worked in a children’s home, was given a police caution for an offence under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 after she left a seven-year-old overnight alone in a hotel while she went out drinking. She and her brother had taken the child to Plymouth following a family bereavement."

"At 10:30pm on the night of the incident, the social worker and her brother left the child in the hotel room to drink in the hotel bar. She then left the bar for another, and later spent the night with a person she met there."

"The police were alerted at 9am the next morning by hotel staff after the child told reception they had woken up alone. The social worker accepted the caution the police gave her for neglect..."

Achieving excellence

The National Parent Forum of Scotland’s annual conference is being held on Saturday 14th November at the University of Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre in central Glasgow.
The theme of the conference will be attainment and achievement from a parental perspective.
When they talk about achievement they do not mean the work that goes on in the classroom necessarily: From Recognising Achievement we are informed that there is a wide range of partners who can provide opportunities for children and young people to achieve, including:

Skills Development Scotland
Community learning and development
Youth Work
The Voluntary Sector

So what this is about is work/citizenship/community type skills development.

We are told that all those who provide and support this learning should have the opportunity to contribute to reporting on the learner’s progress and achievements.

In addition, health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes which are specifically designed to help children and young people make informed decisions will provide a useful focus for conversations about learning and planning next steps.

And very personal that will be too. The whole point of the exercise is that children will build their own profiles of achievement.
Approaches to recognising achievement, profiling and reporting should be manageable for all involved – children and young people, parents, teachers and other staff, partners and others who use this information.
Who the others are who might use this information is unclear. 
Recognising achievement and profiling are consistent with the overall GIRFEC approach. 

No surprise there.
In particular the development of the child’s or young person’s plan using the wellbeing indicators and My World Triangle can be informed by the discussions and reflection which underpin recognition of achievement and profiling.

It`s bureaucracy gone mad. Who would be a child these days ? 
There are a number of electronic systems available, for example e-portfolios and electronic Management Information Systems (MIS), which can support the processes...Learners are able to forward the e-portfolio link to potential employers and other learning providers.

In other words, school is about building a CV from an early age, useful for future employers who will have had an input into the curriculum to engineer the student characteristics they are looking for, but stultifying for children who will grow up to be defined by their profiles.

No help for parents

"County Council v G & others [2005] UKHL 68 involved an appeal by a local authority on a matter of principle. In the course of care proceedings, they had been compelled to pay about £200,000 to provide a therapeutic residential placement for a family pursuant to section 38(6) of the Children Act 1989."

"The case had a happy ending; the family stayed together. But the local authority wanted to make it clear for the future that this had been an improper use of section 38(6) of the Children Act 1989 and argued that the court could not compel a local authority to pay for therapy for parents under a statutory provision directed at assessments of the child. The House of Lords – as they then were – agreed. However, they went further than simply restating the purpose behind section 38(6). Lord Scott is emphatic (see para 24):"

...There is no article 8 right to be made a better parent at public expense.

"There appears to be no way to compel the state to fund treatment for mental health problems. The Children Act does not identify on whom the cost of compliance with its directions falls. A judge in care proceedings cannot compel either a local authority or NHS trust to provide any particular treatment for a parent. Medical or psychiatric treatment of parents would ordinarily be funded by the local NHS Trust but waiting lists can be very long (and thus well outside the timetable for the child) and the particular therapy a parent needs may not be available locally.. "

"I have two fundamental problems with this position. First, how do we square that with our Article 8 obligations? Second, who is conducting a proper cost/benefit analysis of the consequences that flow from failing to provide mental health services to parents? Not all cases involved residential placements and many thousands of pounds. Many cases revolve about who will fund a six month course of therapy in the region of £5,000... "

"How do we square that circle? What are we saying to vulnerable parents who are unable to access support or treatment for their mental health difficulties and/or drug abuse, who are thrown into stressful care proceedings and expected to engage constructively with professionals picking apart every aspect of their lives? In particular, what are we saying to parents who are vulnerable because of their experiences as children, often as children in the care of the state? "

Sarah Phillimore specialises in family law at St Johns Chambers in Bristol.

Read more

It`s a bit of a racket too.

As well as the problem of waiting times, Borderline Personality Disorder is a label that is often used by dodgy family court experts for which there is NO treatment available on the NHS.

Parents then find it impossible to provide evidence of `change` in order to satisfy the courts that they can `safely` parent their children.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Saudi Arabia and human rights

"A young Saudi Arabian Shi’a activist, who was sentenced to death last year, has lost his final appeal for justice and is due to be executed by beheading, followed by the mounting of his headless body onto a crucifix for public viewing. "

"Human rights groups and Saudi critics are appalled by both the nature of the execution and the flimsy case against Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, though neither of these factors are unusual in today’s Saudi Arabia. "

"Al-Nimr was arrested in 2012, at age 17, in the predominantly Shia province of Qatif, and accused of participating in anti-government protests and possessing illegal firearms. He has repeatedly denied the latter charge, although he was reportedly tortured into confessing the offenses after his arrest. According to Amnesty International, al-Nimr spent a short time in a juvenile detention facility before being transferred to prison when he turned 18, and was sentenced to death in 2014..."

"Al-Nimr’s imminent execution is drawing massive opposition to the United Nations’ recent appointment of the Saudi ambassador to lead an influential human rights panela decision that critics called "scandalous."

Mother drowned herself after social services said daughter could not go into residential care

"A depressed mother killed herself the day after being told that her severely autistic daughter could not go into residential care home, an inquest has heard."

"Carol Barnett walked into a river and drowned herself shortly after a meeting with social services to talk about her 10-year-old daughter Deborah in June this year."

"She had told her husband Daniel that she could no longer cope with looking after Deborah, who cannot talk, wash or dress herself and requires around-the-clock care."

"The inquest hearing in Maidstone, Kent was told that social services had refused to send her to a residential school which would remove some of the burden on her parents."

Read more:

Scott on Scotland 15.9.2015 - the Named Person scheme

The programme on 15 September 2015 dealt with GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme, the controversial aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

Why has GIRFEC and the Named Person caused so much controversy over the last few years?

To address this, Carolyn Scott interviewed Maggie Mellon who has had 35 years experience as a registered social worker but now works in a consultative capacity and is a spokesperson for NO2NP.

Liz Smith MSP
Maggie Mellon explained that the Named Person is part of a policy developed during the Labour/LibDem coalition which mirrored a Labour policy, Every Child Matters which was left by the wayside as GIRFEC carried on. All parties including the Conservatives were for it, except Liz Smith, a former teacher who spoke out against it.

The Named Person began as a first point of contact for parents with a disabled child or child with special needs - something they asked for - so that they would not have to keep re-telling their story to different agencies who would invariably protect their own budgets and pass parents on to other agencies.

According to Maggie Mellon, although government officials keep `swapping their horses` the dominant concern has changed from children in need to child protection and in this highly risk averse culture it corrupts everything it touches. She mentioned in passing the report: A Marriage Made in Hell: Early Intervention Meets Child Protection  (Brid Featherstone, Kate Morris and Sue White.)

As well as deciding child protection issues on the basis of `significant harm,` families must pass a `wellbeing test` but that is very subjective territory - "We all disagree with how others do it - people have all these criticisms about parenting."  Now the system will allow Named Persons to impose their own values on families.

Mikaeel Kular was known to social services - he had a Named Person; he had been in care. We do not need to throw out a net around all children; there is plenty of legislation and powers to help protect children. "The bigger the pool you create the harder it is to find... Child protection is complicated; it needs more sophisticated, detailed work."

Data sharing

Maggie Mellon pointed to some of the drawbacks:

Young people will be less likely to take advantage of confidential services when they become aware that their personal information can be shared. Women suffering domestic abuse will be less likely to call the police when it is considered to be a child protection issue and there is a risk that they will be investigated for child abuse.

Already parents are being called to meetings where their partners` medical history is exposed - even about a historical matter the partner might have wished to keep private. "But it could be anything that might impact on a child`s wellbeing; say they were adopted or their mother had suffered from post-natal depression; it will all be added to this pot." In a small town the situation is much worse. "Where is confidentiality?" asked Maggie Mellon, " when private information is shared around the system ?"

NO2NP campaign

The campaign came after the Children and Young People Bill was enacted. Many people could not believe it would happen. As an individual Maggie Mellon put in her response to the consultation outlining her concerns about it. Actually a whole lot of well informed organisations did as well, such as the Scottish Law Centre, the Scottish Child Law Centre and  the Parent/Teachers Association. The majority of local authorities were against it because it would  divert resources from children in need.

The problem was that the government treated each response with equal weight. Charities like Aberlour, Children 1st and Barnardos who rely on government funding pushed the button on protecting children. They did not represent the informed weight of evidence against the Named Person.


Dudley council guilty of maladministration

"A council has been criticised for the "injustice" it caused to a family after it failed to interview children who made allegations of abuse against a foster carer."

"The Local Government Ombudsman said Dudley council was guilty of "maladministration", in its report published last week, after the council did not interview an adoptive mother or her two children, who accused their previous foster carer of physically abusing them."

"The carer was alleged to have smacked the children, made one wear a nappy meant for a disabled child, and had given them cold baths. The children were four and five-years-old when they were adopted by the mother, known as Miss B."

"The mother also complained to the council that personal items of the girls didn’t travel with them, and the council "did not deal with this effectively for eight months after promising Miss B to recover the children’s belongings", the Ombudsman said."

Monday, 21 September 2015

Study shows foster care is not always best for children

"One in every six foster children in Scotland moves home two or more times a year, according to new figures."

"Action for Children said that 971 out of 6415 children in Scotland were in two or more placements between April 2014 and March 2015."

"The charity, which obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, is now calling for more people to come forward to help provide stable homes for foster children in Scotland."

"It said that children and young people who regularly move between foster care homes are more likely to have poor social skills, reduced education outcomes and limited future employment prospects which may impact on their mental health and exacerbate any existing behavioural and emotional issues."

"Carol Iddon, director of children's services across Scotland, said: "

`For children in care, moving home is not just about leaving a house. It means leaving a family, friends, school and everything that's familiar to start all over again...`"

"The charity said that lots of people can foster, whether older, single, co-habiting or married, male or female or in a heterosexual or same sex relationship, but foster carers must have a spare room and the ability to stand alongside children and young people to help them recover."

Help them recover ?

We`re not comparing like with like, exactly, but there is evidence from the US to show that, in general, foster care provides worse outcomes for children than leaving them with their inadequate families.

"NCCPR long has argued that many children now trapped in foster care would be far better off if they had remained with their own families and those families had been given the right kinds of help."

"Turns out that’s not quite right."

"In fact, many children now trapped in foster care would be far better off if they remained with their own families even if those families got only the typical help (which tends to be little help, wrong help, or no help) commonly offered by child welfare agencies."

"That’s the message from the largest studies ever undertaken to compare the impact on children of foster care versus keeping comparably maltreated children with their own families. The study was the subject of a front-page story in USA Today."

"The first study, published in 2007, looked at outcomes for more than 15,000 children. It compared foster children not to the general population but to comparably-maltreated children left in their own homes. The result: On measure after measure the children left in their own homes do better."

"In fact, it’s not even close."

"Children left in their own homes are far less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, far less likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system and far more likely to hold a job for at least three months than comparably maltreated children who were placed in foster care. "

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Confidential files stolen by social worker

"Stolen case files on abused children were found during a police raid on a former social worker."

"Officers swooped on Anthony O`Donoghue`s home as part of a probe into a child porn ring."

"But they also found official documents providing details of sex abuse victims."

"THE confidential files involved youngsters who were under supervision of the now-defunct Strathclyde Regional Council social work department and dated back to the 80s and early 90s."

"O`Donoghue, 62, stole the paperwork while he was a temporary care officer between 1988 and 2006."

"Police also discovered a stash of illegal images during the search at his home in Renfrew in March."

"Officials in Glasgow City Council`s social work department were unaware the files were missing...."

"A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: `This individual has pled guilty to the theft of these files.` "

" `We have robust processes in place to deal with the handling of sensitive information.` "

Draft LB Bill has been backed by charities

Connor Sparrowhawk

"New rights for people with autism and learning disabilities must be enshrined in law, the mother of an 18-year-old man who died in NHS care has said, ahead of an inquest into his death."

"Connor Sparrowhawk, who was autistic and had epilepsy, was found drowned in a bath at an NHS assessment and treatment unit in Oxfordshire in July 2013, after being left unattended."

"Despite an independent inquiry in 2014 finding that Connor’s death had been preventable, that his epilepsy was not monitored, that there was no adequate supervision for residents when bathing, and that the family were granted no involvement in his care, no one has yet been held accountable..."

"A draft Bill, dubbed the LB Bill, for Connor’s nickname Laughing Boy, has been backed by leading charities and Norman Lamb, the former care minister. Key elements of the Bill were included in a government Green Paper, submitted shortly before the election, that could pave the way for major reform."

"Slade House, the unit where Connor had been living for 107 days before his death, has since been shut down, following a damning report by the Care Quality Commission. Meanwhile the trust which managed it, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, is subject to an inquiry into a number of deaths of people with learning disabilities and mental health problems between April 2011 and March 2015."

See also

Saturday, 19 September 2015

How competent are 'expert' witnesses ?

"Prof Ireland and her team were given unprecedented access to psychologists' expert witness reports from three undisclosed courts across England by the FJC, an arm's length body of the Ministry of Justice. "

"Experts play a critical role in family court cases: research suggests that at least one expert is used in 90 per cent of public law children's proceedings and many cases involve three or more experts."

"I think the results from the research are enough to suggest that we do need an urgent review across the range of expert witnesses that the courts are employing."
Prof Jane Ireland, University of Central Lancashire

"Channel 4 News spoke to families across the country involved in court proceedings and heard time and again concerns about the experts used by the courts to determine whether children are at risk and should be removed from their birth parents. "

Maggie Tuttle blogs about the poor psychological assessments used for family courts. See link below.

Teaching the world ?

On 25 September 2015, 193 world leaders will commit to the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
To end extreme poverty
Fight inequality and injustice
Fix climate change

The Worlds Largest Lesson Introduced by Malala Yousafzai from World's Largest Lesson on Vimeo.

Or the biggest scam in scientific history:

See `The Climategate emails`

"The Climategate emails expose to our view a world that was previously hidden from virtually everyone."

"This formerly hidden world was made up of a very few players. But they controlled those critical Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) processes involving  the  temperature  records  from  the  past,  and  the  official  interpretation  of  current temperature data. They exerted previously unrecognized influence on the “peer review” process for papers seeking publication in the officially recognised climate science literature from which the IPCC was supposed to rely exclusively in order to draw its conclusions."

"The Climategate emails demonstrate that these people had no regard for the traditions and assumptions which had developed over centuries and which provided the foundations of Western science. At the very core of this tradition is respect for truth and honesty in reporting data and results; and a recognition that all the data, and all the steps required to reach a result, had to be available to the scientific world at large."

Friday, 18 September 2015

Reforms to the law on data sharing

"The Cabinet Office is developing policy and considering certain targeted reforms to the law on data sharing, which will be published in due course."

See `Data Sharing between Public Bodies: A Scoping Report.`

It is a long document, but chapter 10 is particularly interesting.

It deals with the `Troubled Families` programme led by the Department for Communities and Local Government. (DCLG)

The programme is used as a case study to illustrate the problems that can arise in projects that rely heavily on data sharing.

"The first phase of the programme sought to identify target families using cumulative criteria." (Note these criteria shifted over time but that is not mentioned in the report.)

"The data necessary for this exercise are held across a multiplicity of different local and central pubic sector agencies. A corresponding multiplicity of different data sharing agreements were required with different parts of government...The process was complex, produced patchy results and incurred high transaction costs. Some data sharing was not possible, such as identifying families with priority health problems, as no legal gateway could be found or devised."

Crime/anti-social behaviour

"In early 2013, the applicability of section 115 to this aspect of the Troubled Families Project was endorsed by the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Information Commissioner`s Office in a guidance note to the police service..."

School exclusion

"School exclusion and truancy relied on section 17 of the Children Act 1989 as an implied legal gateway. Section 17 creates a general duty of every local authority to promote the welfare of children in need within their area and the upbringing of such children by their families. For this purpose children are in need if, among other things, their intellectual, social or behavioural development is likely to be impaired if the services are not provided. The section does not create any express information-gathering power."

Out-of-work benefits

"For the purpose of this criterion it was necessary for Regulations to be made under the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to empower the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentre Plus to supply benefits information to local authorities. .Further amendments were required in 2013 to enable the local authorities in turn to share information provided by DWP with the third parties that were supporting the delivery of the programme..."

Housing benefit dependency

"This was regarded as relevant to identifying benefit dependent families...Problems over local authorities` powers to share data with others involved in the project meant that a complex and expensive system of centralised data sharing through DWP had to be created at a cost of £400,000 to DWP..."

Domestic violence, substance and alcohol abuse and mental health

"There was no gateway empowering local GPs or drug and alcohol support providers to share the required data. The lack of one necessitated a complex and expensive process of seeking families` consent to access this information before a decision could be taken to offer support under the programme...described as disproportionately bureaucratic."

"DCLG proposed a `cross-cutting permissive gateway` in order to enable families to be identified against the range of criteria envisaged for the expanded phase of the programme..."

"They suggested that a proportionate approach would be to ensure that the data to identify troubled families were processed by a third party in a depersonalised and indexed form and only re-personalised when an individual or family was found to meet the criteria for assistance under the programme."

Next phase of the Trouble Families programme

Find 400,000 families who meet four of the criteria.

That will mean trawling through many more thousands of children`s and families` personal and/or sensitive data in order to track them down.

The Cabinet Office intends to reform the law to make this easier.

Only the privileged are going to be entitled to a private life.

Tectonic shift, or fantasy ?

Social work networks

"The Association of Directors of Childrens Services (ADCS) held their annual conference at the Midland Hotel in Manchester between 8 - 10 July, 2015."

Their website indicated that
'A Chatham House Plenary Session for all ADCS members will take place from 11am on Thursday 9th July'... ' 
`When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed'.

Social Work Scotland: `Our Foundations and Our Future`

"Over recent years, ADSW [Association of Directors of Social Work] has also developed partnerships with other countries in the UK and Europe, leading to shared knowledge, international networks and joint research. "

"These networks have assisted ADSW to make significant contributions to the public sector reform agenda, particularly in the fields of integration of health and social care and in self-directed support, by articulating issues around prevention, care, protection and control, balanced with the right to choose. "

"These relationships have allowed ADSW to play an integral part in the development of the following pieces of legislation and policy, and the practice that has and will flow from them: "

Changing Lives Report from the 21st Century Review of Social Work, published in 2006;

Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013;

Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014;

Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011;

Review of Community Justice in Scotland

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014;
"Changes in policy have reflected (and in turn influenced) thinking about the purpose of social work and its contribution to society. The policy emphasis in social work has changed from a duty to promote social welfare to an emphasis on well-being, empowering citizens and giving more choice and control to people."
On the contrary, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 disempowers people and through the Named Person and their SHANARRI wellbeing indicators allows the state greater interference in family life.
We have the ADSW to thank for it.

*Social Work Scotland is now the leadership organisation for the social work profession.

*Note the International Federation of Social Workers European Region`s recent conference in Edinburgh. Who knows what they were plotting?

Remembering the deceased in Curriculum for Excellence

Primary school children were left in floods of tears after being told to draw a picture of a dead loved one in a lesson about grief.

Angry parents of the class of nine and 10-year-olds have hit out at the way the subject was taught after a number of the youngsters were left with tears streaming down their faces.

The children, pupils at Camdean Primary School in Rosyth, Fife, were also shown a video of other children talking about deaths in their family - but parents were not told the class was even happening.

Adrian Marshall, 43, dad to ten-year-old Ryan, said this method of teaching could lead to many pupils being left with "dark memories".

The inventory systems advisor from Dunfermline said: "My son came home and told me that a load of children had been crying in class after being shown a really sensitive video.

"They were asked to draw a deceased loved one.

"When I complained and met with the teachers, I was told it was all part of Curriculum for Excellence...

."What I take issue with is that there were no letters sent out to us seeking our permission for the class to go ahead or to ask us if we would like to attend to comfort our kids...

But they also said that, as part of Curriculum for Excellence, children were to be taught emotional skills in addition to more traditional subjects

Where once Scotland had an education system to be proud of, we have this:

Work education from age 3

Sex education from age 5

Emotional skills

Resilience training

Parenting classes

Death education

And let us not forget the Named Person and their SHANARRI wellbeing indicators.

It is no surprise that standards are falling.

Angela Constance

See also

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Why are British weapons sold to nations which use child soldiers ?

"The UK Government is facing calls to explain why British weapons have reportedly been sold to nations which use child soldiers."
"On Saturday, The Guardian newspaper revealed that out of 23 countries listed by the UN for using child soldiers or where children are targeted in warzones, the UK sold military hardware to 19 during the last five years."

"Countries that have purchased UK-made weapons and materiel include Somalia, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which have been reported to recruit children as soldiers."

"Other buyers include Israel, whose military actions in Gaza in 2014 left 521 Palestinian children dead, and Saudi Arabia, which according to UN reports has killed at least 300 Yemeni children in air strikes since March."

"The revelations come as the world's largest arms fair, the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI), begins on Tuesday in London."

"Among DSEI's sponsors are BAE Systems and Raytheon, both of which operate manufacturing facilities in Scotland."

Blaming the victim

Fascinated to watch the social networks attack Mel Shaw over money, charity and drugs. Never mind what she has been...
Posted by Brian Gerrish on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

School Employer Partnerships

Coming soon – guidance on school employer partnerships and new standards for Career Education (3-18) and Work...
Posted by Education Scotland on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Social worker employed by Serco has been struck off register

"A team manager, working in an outsourced children’s services department, has been struck off the social work register for failing to adequately supervise his team and act on safeguarding concerns."

"The manager of the children with disabilities team had been employed by private provider Serco at the time of the allegations in 2012 but was referred by Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council after the team was transferred back into council control following a poor Ofsted inspection."

"The social worker was initially suspended for 12 months in September 2014 on grounds of misconduct for not providing appropriate advice to inexperienced team members who had noted, for example, bitemarks and other injuries. He had also closed cases which had outstanding assessment referrals..."

"At the first hearing, the panel noted that Walsall’s children’s services were in "organisational disarray" at the time of the conduct referral. The children with disabilities team had been transferred back to control of the council the previous month. It had been outsourced since 2005, first to Action for Children and, from 2008, to Serco."

"The manager was employed by Serco at the time of the allegations. There was a large backlog of cases when Serco took over from Action for Children, giving rise to a "defensive" culture, the panel found. There were also inadequate policies within Serco. For example, carers’ self-assessment referrals could be closed if no response was received to a letter within two weeks."

The working poor and family life

As we celebrate the International Day of Democracy and the introduction of new goals for sustainable development, the reality for many families in the UK is that their day-to-day situation is deteriorating:

Let us not forget the `angry kid` who berates his parents but actually hasn`t a clue:

There`s a very good reason why governments on an austerity agenda want to displace parents from family life:

Here`s the Daily Record:

"DELIVERY driver Mark Payne is one of a million Scots set to be hit by Tory cuts to tax credits."

"Mark and partner Agnes face losing £2100. He said: "We have to skip meals to make sure the kids eat."

"We have no food in the fridge by the end of the week."

"We work two jobs for more than 60 hours a week. We have no time with our kids."

"I am sick of the constant stress and if this cut goes ahead it doesn’t seem it will be worth us working."

"The couple are among a million Scots who today face having their family budget slashed by up to £2500 a year under swingeing Tory cuts to be forced through the Commons..."

"More than half of Scots living in poverty are from working households, according to recent figures."