Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Radio 4 focus on Lincs child care cases...

News that the findings of a Lincolnshire County Council review into a case of serious child abuse may not be made public made the national news last night.

I was interviewed live by Eddie Mair (below, right) on the BBC Radio Four 'PM' programme at 5.45 last night, following my call earlier in the day to the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council to show political leadership by intervening in the case. I was responding to disturbing revelations in yesterday's Lincolnshire Echo that any failings which may have happened would be kept secret.

Sadly, the Council declined to take part in the Radio 4 programme, so we still don't know if Council Leader Martin Hill will involve himself in the case to ensure that the findings of the review are made public.

It was last June that a court was told that a young Lincoln mother left her two year old baby barricaded in her kitchen when she went out partying for a weekend.

The toddler was discovered by neighbours three days later in a flooded kitchen, covered in his own excrement and rummaged through rubbish bags for food 'like a dog'. The mother was jailed for 18 months and a County Council review ordered after it was revealed that the toddler had been removed from the 'at risk' register.

Clearly, it was the mother not the social workers or any other professional was responsible for what was described in court as the most serious case of child neglect ever seen by Lincolnshire Police...

But I also strongly believe that the people of Lincolnshire have a right to know what lessons can be learned from such cases, and what action is taken to protect children and minimise the chances of such abuse happening again.

In my view, the Council's statement in yesterday's Lincolnshire Echo that the findings may not be published do nothing to enhance public confidence in our local child care services.

The national spotlight is already on frontline services in Lincolnshire following the shocking case of the 'British Fritzl' who repeatedly raped his two daughters, leaving them pregnant 19 times. We'll have to wait for the outcome of the Serious Case Review into that case.

I understand there are another THREE ongoing serious case reviews involving child protection services in Lincolnshire - the case of the neglected toddler was not considered serious enough to warrant a 'serious case review' and instead a 'management review' was ordered.

But whatever the review is called, I would have thought Councillor Hill would want to avoid a public relations car-crash by giving assurances that the findings will be made public - and any lessons learned.

If you want a listen to the BBC Radio Four interview, it's HERE. Move the timer across to 45 minutes 30 seconds into the programme for the start of the interview.

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