Haringey social services under fire as new report raises fresh fears about child protection
PUBLISHED: 22:42 01 May 2012 | UPDATED: 00:08 02 May 2012
A damning report has revealed 10 children suffered years of neglect in Haringey and sparked calls for a new investigation into social services in the borough.
The investigation into ‘Family Z’, who cannot be named for legal reasons, reveals the children, aged from eight months to 16-years-old, lived in “appalling conditions” and suffered seven years of “chronic neglect” by their parents.
But despite repeated warnings from schools and members of the public alarmed at the children’s filthy appearance, they were allowed to stay in their dirty home until April 2009 – seven years after the council was first alerted to the case.
One child was said to be so hungry that when a foster carer fed her she gripped the milk bottle with such force it left a mark on her face.
The children’s parents were jailed for neglect in October 2010.
An independent report into the family, commissioned by Haringey’s Local Safeguarding Children Board, paints a disturbing picture of a “dysfunctional” culture within the children’s social services team and an “absence of responsible management”.
It added: “Anxiety bred a culture of harassment and bullying and an increasingly autocratic style of management.”
The report, published on Friday (April 27), found that the children “had been allowed to live in appalling home conditions for at least five months too long” and that the investigation into their welfare had been “unprobing”.
The case is contemporaneous with that of Baby Peter Connolly, a toddler on the council’s at-risk register who died after suffering more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother, her lover and a lodger, in 2008.
Cllr Katherine Reece, the Liberal Democrat shadow spokeswoman for children’s services on Haringey Council, called for an independent investigation into Haringey children’s services.
She said: “This happened back in 2009 but we cannot continue to hide behind the fact that things are supposed to have changed.
“The lack of joined up working was a problem in the Baby P case.
“The culture of unhappiness among social workers and the difficulties with the management is simply not going away.
“We need an independent review of Haringey’s children’s services. This department has only just come out of special measures, maybe it needs to be placed back into them.”
But a spokeswoman for Haringey Council said there had been “no criticism from the judge or anyone else” about the way children’s serviced handled child protection with Family Z.
Cabinet member for children, Cllr Lorna Reith, said in a statement on Monday (April 30), before her resignation: “This review covers a period when there were serious shortcomings in our children’s safeguarding services, and we apologise unreservedly for the past failures identified in this case.
“We have been working hard to ensure sustained improvement in our services for vulnerable children and have received a number of positive reports over the last two years. The key lessons for learning raised by the report have already been addressed by our children’s services.”