This week has been an open display of bureaucratic failures. The most outrageous issue with this particular set of failures is the victims: children. Innocent children. Reports on the Baby P tragedy and the dismal report by HM Inspectorate of Education of Aberdeen City’s child services highlight a serious lack of competence and an inability to properly and thoroughly do the job such services were put in place to do.
In Haringey, blind routine and lack of attention to details has cost a child their life before, in 2000 with the death of 8 year old Victoria Climbié. After the failures of this case, Haringey Council claimed an overhaul on the processes and quality of their child protection services had taken place. While Baby P was actually placed on the child protection register and Victoria was not, the changes that took place were clearly not enough to recognize that broken bones, cuts, bruises, lacerations, missing teeth and fingernails were signals that a 17-month old child was being abused.
And failures in child services are not unique to Haringey. In Aberdeen City, a report by the HM Inspectorate of Education has found that in fourteen categories, the council was given a passing grade on only four. One area in which Aberdeen City was given an unsatisfactory rating was in “Recognizing and Assessing Risks and Needs.” Isn’t recognizing that a child is in some kind of dangerous situation the reason these groups are in place? This is completely unacceptable! And not only were they deemed as doing a poor job in this category, but the department on the whole was generally inconsistent in approach and large numbers of staff were unfamiliar with procedure and protocol. Who is hiring these people? Who is training and monitoring them? And more pressing, who is paying their salaries? The taxpayers.
In both of these cases, there are several major problems we should be concerned with. The most important of which is that children are the most damaged victims of this lack of competence and are clearly not out of danger as reports and current events show. These children will grow up with a chip on their shoulder for the system that was put in place to protect them while they were beaten and bruised under the “watchful” eyes of a growing bureaucracy. Second, the taxpayers are funding this miserable failure and will continue to do so as the Government plans to pump extra money into these problem areas. Obviously these councils need help, but the government has had ample opportunity to make changes. The children of Aberdeen and Haringey and of the entire country deserve far better. For the sake of those like Baby P and Victoria Climbié, lets hope it happens soon.