Social workers have an invidious task, particularly when dealing with vulnerable children who may be at risk. Who can forget the tragic case of Ashya King, who was suffering from a brain tumour and whose parents took him away from Southampton General Hospital against the wishes of his carers? The Hounds of Hell were unleashed upon this unfortunate family as they were pursued to Spain and arrested on an international arrest warrant. Common sense prevailed when it was obvious that Ashya’s parents had only his best interests at heart, and they were allowed to take him to Prague for treatment. The most recent prognosis is very encouraging. A clear case of an ill-judged overreaction from uninformed social workers, and not the first time.
Social workers are regularly called upon to make life-changing decisions which will affect the entire family unit, and if they get it wrong, the consequences are too awful to contemplate. If children are left with abusive parents, their lives are literally at risk. If they are taken away when there is no good reason, the family can find it impossible to rebuild confidence, even where they have been completely exonerated. Nobody, least of all I, would pretend that exercising the judgment of Solomon is easy for underpaid and poorly trained social workers, but when they get it wrong, they need to accept their share of the blame, and try and learn from their mistakes.
Sadly, and all too often, these social workers refuse to take any responsibility for their incompetence, and worse still, try and suppress the truth. I refer to the recent tragic case of Poppi Worthington, who died three years’ ago aged 13 months. The exact causes of her death have yet to be determined, as a fresh inquest has been ordered but not yet held. Was it ever thus as the legal juggernaut trundles along at its own snail’s pace, ignoring the adage that justice delayed is justice denied. The initial findings, which bordered on the absurd, was that Poppi had died from ‘severe constipation’! But bringing some degree of sanity into this insanity, Mr. Justice Peter Jackson ruled that Poppi had died of a penetrative assault by her father Paul. It was also noted that Poppi had two fractures to her leg which were never reported.
And what has been the response of the Social workers to this very tragic case? A total bunker mentality, and not for the first time. Instead of admitting serious errors of judgment, apologising and promising to do better next time, they sought a secrecy order to prevent Poppi and her case being identified until 2029. It beggars belief! Of course they are not alone. Chief Plod of the Metropolitan Police is refusing to apologise for the appalling way Lord Bramall was treated. I say take away his knighthood and reduce him to the ranks where he belongs. This bunker mentality amongst public servants seems to be embedded in their psyche, assuming they have one.
How many years have passed since Baby P, or Victoria Climbie? Have they learned nothing? To them, sorry seems to be the hardest word.