Monday, 17 November 2008

Social Services

Just a quick reminder. Lest we forget.

Dennis O'Neil, 13, was beaten to death by his foster father, Reginald Gough, at Bank Farm, Shropshire. A post-mortem examination revealed he had been starved for months and weighed just four stone. The murder trial revealed that he had sucked the farm cows' udders in a desperate attempt to get some sustenance. The case shook a war weary Britain and there was a national outcry when Gough was jailed for six years for manslaughter. An appeal court ruling changed the verdict to murder and his sentence was extended to 10 years. A Home Office inquiry identified a string of failures by the staff and agencies involved in the case. There had been confusion between the two local authorities responsible for the boy's foster placement, conflicting reports by childcare staff about his wellbeing, staff shortages and miscommunication.


Maria Colwell, seven, died in Brighton after being starved and beaten by her stepfather, William Kepple. She had suffered brain damage, a fractured rib, black eyes, extensive external bruising and internal injuries. Maria had been fostered by her aunt and uncle because her mother, Pauline, could not cope with bringing up five children on her own. Five years later Pauline decided she wanted her daughter back. But an inquiry by the Department of Health found that East Sussex county council had insufficient evidence to return the girl. There were 50 official visits to the family, including from social workers, health visitors, police and housing officers. All agencies involved in the case were criticised.


Jasmine Beckford was starved and battered to death by her stepfather, Maurice Beckford. He was found guilty of the four-year-old's manslaughter and jailed for 10 years. Her mother, Beverley Lorrington, was jailed for 18 months for neglect. Jasmine had been in the care of Brent social services for two-and-a-half years before she died, after Beckford was convicted of assaulting her younger sister. She was seen by a social worker only once in 10 months.

Tyra Henry died after being battered and bitten by her father, Andrew Neil, while in local authority care. Neil was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for the 21-month-old baby's murder. A report on the case found that the white social workers from Lambeth council tended to be too trusting of the family because they were black. John Patten, then a junior social services minister, published new guidelines on child abuse cases for social workers soon after.


Heidi Koseda starved to death in a locked room in Hillingdon, west London. Her stepfather, Nicholas Price, was jailed for life for her murder while her mother, Rosemary Koseda, was found guilty of manslaughter and detained in a high security psychiatric hospital. A private inquiry into her death found that the senior National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children inspector allocated to her case failed to investigate a complaint of child abuse made by a neighbour. He also tried to cover this up with a fictitious account of a visit to see the child.


Kimberley Carlile, four, was starved and beaten to death in Greenwich. Her stepfather, Nigel Hall, received a life sentence for her murder while her mother was given 12 years' imprisonment for assault and cruelty. Hall frustrated attempts by social workers and health visitors to investigate. But an inquiry found that her death was avoidable and concluded that four key social work and health staff in Greenwich failed to apply the necessary skill, judgement and care in her case.


Doreen Mason died of neglect after her mother and her boyfriend bruised, burnt and broke the 16-month-old's leg then failed to have her injuries treated. Christine Mason and Roy Aston were convicted of manslaughter and cruelty and each jailed for 12 years. Doreen was on the "at risk" register of Southwark council from birth. She slept on the floor where the couple put junk food for her to eat. A report said her social worker was inexperienced and given no proper training or supervision, and that Southwark social services department suffered from a "siege mentality" and "destructive mistrust" between senior managers.


Leanne White, three, was beaten to death by her stepfather, Colin Sleate, who made her sleep on the floor. The girl suffered 107 external injuries and died of internal bleeding and repeated blows to the stomach. Sleate was jailed for life for the girl's murder while her mother, Tina, received 10 years for manslaughter. An inquiry concluded that her death could have been prevented if Nottinghamshire social services had responded properly to reports from her grandmother and neighbours that she was at risk.


Rikki Neave, six, was found strangled by his coat zipper in a wood near Peterborough. His drug addict mother, Ruth, was jailed after admitting cruelty towards Rikki and two of his three sisters. She hit them, burned them, threw them across the room and locked them outside. Neave had asked a succession of social workers to take the boy off her hands and told one she would kill Rikki if they did not do something. A report by the social services inspectorate three years later said fault primarily lay with senior management in Cambridgeshire social services department.


Chelsea Brown, two, was battered to death by her father. Robert Brown, who was jailed for life for her murder, had a criminal record for violence against children. Her mother, Maria Brown, was jailed for 18 months for child cruelty. The girl's social worker, Norma McDevitt, visited the family 27 times in the 10 weeks before her death. She took Chelsea to a paediatrician who said that six out of nine areas of bruising "had no plausible explanation" and at least one was deliberately inflicted. These findings should have triggered police involvement and a multi-agency case conference under Derbyshire county council's procedures, but neither happened.


Victoria Climbié, eight, died from hypothermia in a tiny flat in Tottenham, north London, after suffering months of horrific abuse and neglect. Her aunt, Marie Thérèse Kouao, and her boyfriend, Carl Manning, were both jailed for life for the girl's murder in January 2001. A public inquiry into her death began in September 2001, which is expected to lead to sweeping reform of Britain's child protection services. It has heard that there were at least 12 chances for the agencies involved in her protection to have saved her. Two social workers from the London borough of Haringey have been suspended and face disciplinary proceedings.


Lauren Wright, six, was found dead after suffering a fatal punch or kick from her stepmother, Tracey Wright, which caused her digestive system to collapse. The woman was found guilty of manslaughter, as was the girl's father, Craig Wright, who had turned a blind eye to her abuse. Norfolk social services department has admitted it made serious mistakes and missed chances to save Lauren. An inquiry found that inter-agency coordination was "ineffective" and social workers had not acted with "due urgency".


Ainlee Labonte, two, was starved and tortured to death by her vicious parents, Leanne Labonte and Dennis Henry. The couple, from Plaidstow, east London, were jailed for manslaughter for deliberately punching, scalding and burning the toddler, who had 64 scars and bruises on her body when she died. She weighed just 9.5kg (21lbs), about half the normal weight of a child that age. An inquiry into her death found that the health and social workers who should have protected her failed to do so because they were paralysed with fear of Leanne and Dennis. It criticised the staff and agencies involved for poor communication and for failing to carry out a proper assessment of the risks facing Ainlee.


The Penguin said...

Just sent this:

Dear Ms Shoesmith

Have you noticed any or all of the following?

Perhaps you should consider your position?

Yours sincerely

The Penguin said...

Good work OH, but that's just the tip of the disgusting iceberg, statistics quoted in one paper today said an average of 40 children a year are murdered by their parents / step-parents in the UK.

Civilised country my shiny fucking arse.

The Penguin

Old Holborn said...

My point in publishing the above was to show how many lessons have been learned by Social Services.

Dave said...

Social Services!
Nothing but a job creation scheme for Guardian readers.

Just close it down. All of it. I can't see how spending all that money makes any difference at all

Close it down and do it now

Gerald Cheshire said...

History has shown that Social Service Departments do not, and indeed cannot, learn lessons. They always know best whatever the situation, don't they? Sums up the whole socialist ideal.

SaltedSlug said...

Mrs Slug's colleague, who heads up one of the social worker teams in her council, responded when told of the pending enquiry into the Peter Connelly case:

"Oh great, another spreadsheet."

Quite. It's all this government knows how to do.

Shrewdy said...

Hmmm, well the world knows that lessons are never truly learnt when it comes to Social Workers because whilst they are safe in their jobs or, there is the prospect of being suspended (aka a LONG paid break) then there will never be any personal responsibility.

The punishment metered out to those who were lets be honest, were in a position to stop these crimes, should be severe.

Personally I think there is merit in a charge of willful neglect, dereliction of duty of care, complicity in the crime of causing death...who knows but if you take a salary for protecting children and you so obviously abrogate that responsibility for the fear of making a decision then the punishment should be at the very least, losing your job. If no crime exists for this I am sure that our Stasi government could concoct something that may be of use for once...

IMHO of course.


John Pickworth said...

Young lives in peril

150 children die from maltreatment in England and Wales each year

35 children killed by a parent each year

400,000 children considered to be “in need”, either as potential victims of abuse or neglect or through lack of parental supervision

20,000 care proceedings every year

400 newborn babies taken into care in 2005-06

2,800 children under 12 months taken into care in 2005; 1,600 in 1995

Sources: The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health


Clearly there is a huge problem in our society and given the stats' above it would be fair to say that perhaps social services are a justified and necessary evil. But that's not to say social services don't make mistakes, nor that their existence exasibates the problem.

Old Holborn is right though when he says that those charged with the protection of our children seem incapable of learning any lessons. Maybe then, these people, this expensive £7Billion a year system, isn't the most appropriate of necessary evils? Surely its time for a root and branch rethink?

Whatever we decide, it cannot be right that almost half a million of our kids are not afforded the most rudimentary of basic care. The blame for that though must first and foremost lay at the feet of the parents of these children. While I don't doubt some parents genuinely do have problems and really do find it difficult to cope. We also know of examples where kids are neglected simply because of their parent's prolifigate lifestyles, their favouring of fags, beer, flatscreen tvs and foreign holidays over the most basic welfare needs of their off-spring.

Its obscene, that's what it is.

And lets be honest, the Government doesn't escape any responibility either. The shape of our society is forged upon the ill-considered policies eminating from Town Halls and Government offices across the land.

And if you think its bad now? Wait till little Tyson and Maddison start raising their own kids, as taught by the current crop of slobs.

As the man said, there are lessons here for us all. How long till we start learning from them?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it sad the numbers of children murdered by their stepfathers?

Anonymous said...

No abuse, just congrats to OH & the penguin for keeping this in our faces.
Personally, although there probably are exceptions and I'm sure Mrs Slug is one of them, I have always found Social Workers to be the most opinionated people on earth, with no inkling that people may have differing opinions & that some of their opinions could be worthwhile taking on board. Not helped by the fact that most of them are Laborite trolls with skill at ticking boxes but very little else.

Henry Crun said...

How many social workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. They just set up a support group called "Coping with Darkness"

fuchsia groan said...

Shrewdy, well said. I have been thinking along the same lines. Surely there is a case for a corporate manslaughter charge against the people responsible. About time an example was made, pour encourager les autres. I would donate money towards a class action, I am sure many others would do.

WV: cilwar
There will be soon.

Old Holborn said...

If an Air Traffic Controller screws up and kills people, he is charged with manslaughter and faces jail.
If an aircraft mechanic screws up and kills people he is charged with manslaughter and faces jail
If a soldier or policeman screws up and kills someone, he is charged with manslaughter and faces jail.
If you screw up while driving your car and kill someone, you will be charged and face jail.
If a social worker screws up and a child dies, there will be handwringing MPs, commissions, reccommendations, promises that it will not happen again, social workers off sick on "stress", etc etc.
But NOT a single one of those who let a child die will ever face jail.

SaltedSlug said...

Right OH, but all your examples are based on the person's actions killing someone. Whereas the mongs at Harringey failed to predict that someone else's actions would kill someone.
There isn't a criminal charge that would cover that and frankly, I'd be terrified of what kind of legislation this shower of shit would throw together that would.

Screaming Banshee said...

I have just read the thread about Social Services and I am disgusted.

I am a strong believer that people should be given an IQ test before being allowed to have children or to be allowed to live with children.

Love the blogging Old Hlborn :-)

it's either banned or compulsory said...

The French have a law against 'failing to assist someone in danger', perhaps we could look at that ?

I'm not registered on facebook, would you please tell us the total membership of such, presumably, protest groups ?

John Pickworth said...17 November 15:19
400 newborn babies taken into care in 2005-06

That high figure was partly a response to the report following the Climbie case, showing that something was being done.
At the same time SS departments came under pressure to get these children adopted more quickly and thus the insidious practise of SS legally kidnapping healthy white babies from respectable mothers because those babies were easier to get adopted thus achieving the required target ( at the expense of older, black, disabled children with siblings and the de-babied Mothers).

Like most things local authorities are piss poor at running childrens homes ( the one near me has a constant gaggle of drunk and drugged up boy and girlfiends hanging around outside all hours of the night and day ).
One only has to think of the Islington childrens home scandal

"Margaret Hodge rejected a request for extra staff from the local office running an investigation into abuse. She also criticised social workers for alerting parents to the allegations at a public meeting. Did she resign ?

The Church Of England Childrens Society used to run childrens homes but now seem to have given up ( probably so as not to be forced to give up those in their care to homos and lezzers )
This is what they do now.
We target your specific problem areas and use our in-depth knowledge and experience of public policy and operational objectives to provide effective outcomes. We have proven evidence of our success, with leading-edge projects demonstrating real and lasting outcomes.

WTF does that mean ?

Tom said...

Not to be political here - but did anyone notice jail sentences ceased with the death of Chelsea Brown in 1999? Would Labour truly have anything to do with this?

me not you said...

with reference to what screaming banshee said.

HOW RIDICULOUS!! having an iq test to have a child!! child abusers are evil and that does not mean they have a low intelligence!! you dont need to be clever to be a parent, loving and caring for a child is a good start.

Anonymous said...

The mother of beautiful Heidi Koseda....Rosemary Koseda, now goes under her maiden name Rickard. She has an account on facebook...Rosemary Rickard. Furthermore, she is back living in the West London area.

If still alive Heidi would have been getting ready to celebrate her 28th birthday......16th December.

RIP Heidi, never forgotten sweetheart xx7

Anonymous said...

Lorrington was released after just 6 bloody months

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