Oh dear. It’s been revealed in the Cancer that another Serious Case Review into a child abuse case in Bristol isn’t up to scratch.
At last night’s full council meeting the political boss of the city’s children’s services, Peter Hammond, admitted: “Very recently Bristol completed a further serious case review, which Ofsted has regrettably also judged to be inadequate.
“We will, of course, be looking at why this review was so and meeting with the inspectors. This review will be subject to the same process as the earlier (Family F) inadequate review.”
Despite Hammond and the Cancer’s reluctance to give us any further details – which only fuels the impression of a paranoid culture of pointless secrecy at the Council House where senior figures are unable to face up to reality – the review they’re referring to is the only one outstanding at Bristol City Council, the one featured on James Barlow’s blog into ‘Baby Z’.
‘Baby Z’ or Rio as you might know him – if you followed the widespread newspaper reports at the time – died after apparently drinking his mother’s methadone and just last month the Cancer was reporting that the boy’s mother lost an appeal against a five year prison sentence for “gross neglect”.
This is the second Serious Case Review in to child abuse produced in the space of six months by senior figures at the city council that is considered ‘inadequate’. This should be a matter of the gravest concern. Lessons that need to be learned and shared on child protection are not being.
While in an area as complex and confusing as child protection we might need to accept that errors will always be made on the ground, the city’s children’s services’ inability to genuinely and unambiguously identify what these errors might be or tell us the truth about the chaos of their beloved partnership working methods or to address their obvious management inadequacies and then take proper steps to rectify them is unacceptable.
A report that says, “There is no evidence that people had information to show that the baby was at risk of harm,” and then says “Rio’s death was clearly avoidable” is confused to say the least.
The production of these poor quality reports by Council House insiders might produce acceptable PR in the circumstances, cover bureacratic arses and keep gold-plated pension arrangements intact but it will not save lives that might be saved.
Update 4 December 2008: The Cancer has now named the cases involved.