Diary of a Corbynista

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10 February 2022

Diary of a Corbynista

Caring about children

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart

Reading Corbynista 2 weeks ago a reader was unimpressed:

Spend 5% of the time and effort spent into b/s political investigations on spotting and resolving the root cause of child neglect and abuse and maybe the number of defenceless lives lost would dramatically reduce. 

And he provided this link: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/statistics-briefings/child-deaths-abuse-neglect

The NSPCC report published in December 2021 had the following findings:

  • In the last five years there was an average of 58 child deaths by assault or undetermined intent a year in the UK.
  • Children under the age of one are the most likely age group to be killed by another person, followed by 16- to 24-year-olds.
  • Child homicides are most commonly caused by the child’s parent or step

We recently came across a drama series addressing the issue of child abuse.  As well as being dramatically compelling it depicted an approach to social services that is a million miles from our own chaos.

Apologies to any readers who are devotees of Scandinavian TV series.  This article might give away too much about one of these called Cry Wolf.

It is set in a small Danish town.  The Hansen family has recently moved into the area.  Dea and Simon have a 9 year old son Theo and a 14 year old daughter Holly from Dea’s previous marriage.  Holly writes a school essay in which she accuses her stepfather of physically abusing her.  The school alerts Social Services (the Department) and Lars Madsen is assigned to the case.

The series works as a Whodunit as Lars tries to establish what has happened and then seeks a way forward.

Gradually all is revealed.  We are taken through the underlying issues of each family member with Lars trying to be sensitive to all while focusing on ensuring that Holly is protected.

I was impressed by the depiction of complex relationships.  It was apparent that there were no 100% saints or sinners.  The Department follows a number of false trails before Lars comes up trumps.

I was also impressed that the Danes seem to have a joined up process with school, Social Services, police and judiciary cohesive, mutually supportive and quick to act.

In this country we are good at throwing our hands up and describing bad situations.  We specialise in think tanks that analyse the issues up the kazoo then report all to the government, which expresses horror and does nothing.

The MacAlister Care Review was set up by the Government in January 2021 to meet a manifesto commitment to review Childcare.

The Care Review Watch Alliance comprising frontline childcare workers is not convinced:

It is with great regret that we approach this response having to recognise the politically contrived nature of the design and promotion of the MacAlister Care Review. The fact we have a CfC(Case for Change)  proposed and costings submitted for the spending review only 3 months into the process is incredulous. This timescale meets a Tory Government deadline for the Review to complete in a year. The timescale has been set to take advantage of the government’s current Parliamentary majority with a view to implementing legislative change, regardless of Parliamentary opposition. This timetable therefore reflects the political needs of the ruling Tory government, rather than being grounded in a desire to undertake a thorough review, or to seek consensus across the political and children’s social care spectrum as to how to better meet the needs of children and families. Mr MacAlister presents the public with a narrative about investment and the need for children to have lifelong relationships which provide love, care and security. However, he has failed to challenge the government’s decision to deny the right to care to young people in care who are over the age of 15. Concerns are such that Article 39, a small children’s rights charity has had to launch legal action to try to ensure 16 and 17 year olds are not denied care.

Of course there are political points to be made about starving public services of funds.  Newsnight and Channel4 Dispatches have been all over this several times over the years.

But nothing gets done and I am forced to conclude that protecting the vulnerable comes very low in our voting priorities.

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