Angels of Death, did it again

I am getting a bit concerned about the constant news that children under care of Social Services get killed by their parents or some other relative. The news reports always portray the Social Workers as having tried, with exception for Baby P, Peter Connolly, when for the first time, severe public criticism took place against Social or care workers and even one doctor.

In other cases, especially when people of lower intellect are involved we never hear any criticism of Social Services as if nothing ever could be their fault. We have no witness statements or video evidence how these social Workers actually spoke to the subject in their care or what their general attitude was. It is always assumed that the victims were of insufficient mental capacity and that because of this the unfortunate event occurred. But that’s a bit of a very old hat and I am really tired of reading how mothers killed their children in despair and how hard social workers tried to help the family.

Like in this case where an Asian woman killed her autistic son with bleach to prevent him being taken into care. One reads about the woman’s deteriorating mental health. People with such problems must be treated with extra caution and I really would like to see the video tapes of the inter-action of the social workers with that woman and her son to understand why that woman thought it must be better to kill her own son with bleach rather than let social services take care of the child.

It is my suspicion that the social workers could have behaved in such a manner that it distressed that woman. In effect it costs social services lots of money to care for autistic youngster and they save a considerable amount of money if the subject of the proposed care is dead rather than alive and that is an undeniable fact.

In a recent report Kent Children’s Social Services have been criticised in an Ofstead report, please read article. where it says: “The Ofsted report came after a previous damning report into the killing of 25-day-old baby Tiffany by her father Christopher Sellman”.

How is it that those people can keep on killing their children whilst at the same time Social Workers waste immense amount of time on cases that do not need their involvement?  Of course it might be more pleasant to deal with parents who are save rather than those who are difficult but Social Services have no proper criteria and the Social Workers are not adequately qualified to deal with difficult cases. I think that bad record keeping might also play a role.

In this case, a woman who is said to be of deteriorating mental health, killed her son with bleach. Social Services were involved but they cannot be punished for this result of their insufficient care because it was the mother of the child that killed him with bleach. Yet I think in all cases where social services are involved, greater emphasis should be placed on their responsibility to stop parents from turning on their own children.  Because Social Workers know they are safe, they can practically almost get away with anything. I think that Social Workers should be video-taped whilst they are with clients. Social Workers should have to undergo vigorous training and swear an oath similar to the doctors Hippocratic oath, who have to treat any person as best as they can.

I have heard the strangest cases how social workers treated people in their care, made them feel like dirt. I think it is about time that the Social Work profession is under scrutiny.

I want to know the names of those Social Workers that were involved. I want to know whether the woman’s mental health was better before she got involved with Social Services and why it deteriorated whilst she was involved with Social Services. Was she suicidal prior to Social Services involved?

People with Learning Disabilities can do quite well in life, when they get good support. It is the job of Social Workers to give people hope and not to drive them into killing their children. I think we must be much more wary of Social Workers and not believe those soppy stories we read again and again in the papers, portraying them as perpetually good people.

I think it is appropriate to give Social Workers the nick name Angels of Death when those in their care continue to harm themselves and others and even worst, the harm only starts after Social Workers got involved. Of course if there is no family involved to support those unfortunate enough to be under the spell of bad Social Workers, then we get this type of creeping fascism into our society where the helpless are driven into killing themselves. That is more than sad. I always campaign for family support for those who would benefit from this. In any case there must be much more scrutiny of Social Workers, their qualifications and their involvement with those in need of support. Maybe we need to change the care criteria or the care methods to ensure that unsuspecting vulnerable people do not get caught in the net of eternal abuse by the state.

Crime for Profit

I think this is a very interesting concept that prisons are run by private companies for profit. Since it was the last Labour government that invented the idea, we see the constant dilution of the political agendas across the party or a cross-party economic agenda taking place. Anyway Tony Blair admired Lady Thatcher a lot for it.

The Unions, who normally sponsor the Labour Party are on a striking agenda, which will be catched up by the ever reliable army stepping  in.

So far so good but what about if criminals only end up committing crime to enhance the profits for jailers. I think that might change their attitude, to see that someone earns money out of their crimes, when in the past, crimes were committed against individuals who were rich or institutions who were rich but now crimes are made to pay for prisons, instead of costing the tax payer money.

I think that might bring a refreshing change to the criminal mentality, in that criminals might re-think the purpose of their criminality as the damage they caused now actually benefits some who get rich out of it by running a profitable prison service. I am definitely not against it because things can only get better in respect of crime. Maybe some criminals might think it was more profitable to open a prison than be in one, lol and provide the service for the few unfortunate ones that haven’t grasped the concept yet.

Why would the government lock up prisoners and run the service more expensively out of tax payer’s money when private firms can do a better and cheaper job? Crimes are often committed against individuals and not the state as such and perhaps the state should only look after prisoners who actually want to damage the state, such as terrorists and soldiers.  The principle that the state always has to repair the damage of individuals against individuals I believe contradicts current legislation in any case.

Yet in the matter of Care in the Community, we see that this does quite a lot of damage to our economy as carers are unable to work, that increases the flow of illegal immigrants to fill up jobs and also the state has to pay the benefits to look after people and for the carers. The rumour was that Care in the Community is cheaper but I doubt it. Why not see whether private companies can run open institutions for those in need of supervision and allow persons to work on profitable projects as well within open institutions.

Failing for protecting from abuse

I think that it is an excellent development that victims of abuse can now sue local authorities when their social services failed to protect children for example from abuse, as this BBC article reports. This is about social services not removing children from homes whereby they are abused by their parents or persons in their homes.

Yet that can only happen if the abused, in most cases probably children, become old enough and survive the abuse. In many cases, when it is about small children, they often enough end up dead and cannot bring a case. It is disturbing though, and it seems to be a grey area and hole in the law, that when parents abuse so much that a child dies, that then only the killers of the child, often the parents get held responsible and end up in jail on long prison terms. That is especially questionable when the killers are parents of limited intellect or even severely handicapped with IQ’s below 70. That is what the Americans would still call mentally retarded. The UK gotten rid of that classification in a fashion up-date of UK political correctness.

I think that this must be addressed. That it is predictable that vulnerable adults can easily be manipulated into doing the wrong thing. Yet it is extremely hard to proof that a vulnerable person was manipulated into doing the wrong thing, so that an accountable service, in this case the social services cannot be held responsible for the wrong-doing of the vulnerable adult.

Yet what the cases of victims of abuse in the home show, is that they can sue for not being rescued from an abusive home. Yet we know of many other instances when care providers themselves where sued for abuse taking place within the care home or other caring institutions. For example the Catholic church went through scores of abuse allegations and had to settle at a very high price.

Despite this up-beat in human rights for minors, we still hear cranky politicians ask for more corporal punishment to discipline children better. I think that is the one policy for which I admire Labour, is the introduction of a law that makes corporal punishment child abuse. Because it is the very fact that children are treated with respect that turns them into happier adults and less likely to become criminals. Often corporal punishment prevents victims of abuse to speak out because they are punished if they fall out of line so to speak. Odd behaviour is often enough a sign of abuse but not always.

In conclusion I would like to repeat my demand to make social services more accountable by introducing strict qualification requirements, so that all social workers have to go through years of training and not just become social workers because they cannot get another job. They need to become professionally trained and to a standard that is immediately recognisable. These days you get so many odd social workers and when you enquire what their qualifications are, you get the answer its a secret and protected under the Data Protection Act. Yet with doctors and nurses you know exactly what type of qualifications they have to pass to be able to practise.

Therefore I think it would be better all around if Social Workers came under NHS instead of councils because then they would fall under a category to do with the Hippocratic oath, promising care for each individual. Social Services have been pushed into a very bad position when it is more convenient for them to end up with dead child victims because then  Social Services cannot be prosecuted for the crime rather than living children who can sue them for failing to protect them. Yet the Baby P case led to the sacking of Social Workers, which is only one good but small step into the right direction. Yet those problems have been caused by the ‘Care in the Community’ system that allows all persons to reside within the community, cared for by family members or friends.

Often abusive carers/parents suffer from complex mental conditions that may include neurosis, low intellect, other learning disabilities, compulsive or clinical conditions in social settings are hard to detect for people not trained in the many conditions that are apparent in people today. We even occasionally find that the so-called ‘respected members of our community’ turn out to be ‘faulty’.

We have read about it frequently how difficult parents find it to sterilise severely disabled woman who cannot possibly care for children, they could have. Yet we not only have to look at the Human Rights issue but also at the cost issue because it is extremely expensive to allow inadequate parents to care for children, when those inadequate parents needs caring for themselves.

One good step was the introduction of a benefit ceiling, so that people are prevented from having countless numbers of children, whereby each indidvidual gets less attention and care from their parents and often parents are unable to provide adequate supervision for their off-spring.

welfare reform

So the disputed cut in housing benefit for the unemployed has been dropped off the reform list. But, those under-occupying face a financial penalty. The latest BBC report on the issue lists the changes to take place over the next parliamentary term as well as this one from 2013. To introduce 1 single benefit that is capped at a top-amount of £26.000 is a huge task.  The outlined reforms are as follows:

  • A single universal credit to come into force in 2013
  • Tax changes to enable people to keep more income
  • Changes to the disability living allowance
  • More details of the back-to-work programme
  • Those refusing to work facing a maximum three-year loss of benefits
  • Annual benefit cap of about £26,000 per family
  • Review of sickness absence levels

No promise for a living wage, but an aim to make work more profitable than benefit dependency. It’s a healthy relationship, the dependence of wage and the economy without putting up the ceiling to a higher amount than small companies can comfortably afford.

Wages for the low earners have been subsidised for quite a long time in the shape of tax credits or income related subsidies like income support. Working parents get child care vouchers. Why one would want to insist on a living wage as a set amount is not quite clear to me as this would leave people worst of, when all they have is the living wage without the ability to top up flexibly what is needed to make ends meet.

Flexibility is the secret weapon of any successful economy that is set for expansion. Especially as back to work means jobs are there and for that we need to have incentives for business to settle and stay in the UK.

However whilst on the housing front, under-occupiers get penalised, the housing system in the UK is like a Dinosaur, very heavy and hard to administer and therefore very expensive. The fact that residents still have to go through many administrative hurdles, to rent, exchange and move property has not been satisfactorily resolved in my view. People are in fact hindered from freely moving around because the housing bureaucracy is so heavy and money is too tight to move possessions around. Other services that are council administered are often too expensive to run and subject to political tinting instead of cost-effective operations. Many services, like for example social services, care for the homeless and probationer, could be run by charitable organisations like churches who would make ideal carers and are pillars of the community.

It is kind of a great shame that the state has dismantled communal organisations like churches instead of utilising their potential.

The Big Society Idea is a great step in the right direction but not steep enough yet.

Abusing vulnerability to restrict freedom of movement

The amount of persons on the vulnerable adults and children’s list is growing rapidly and councils use this principle to restrict people’s right to move out of the borough.

Children are being put on the “At risk register” without any real evidence of abuse being present but on the sheer chance that abuse could be taking place. This is then used to check families, or study them as you may wish to call it, and then refusing those families full rights of housing.

It is a policy that abuses the Baby P case. It is very costly and absurd to use mere presumptions, and assumed risks to justify the employment of more social workers to watch families, when there is no real evidence of any abuse having taken place. It is an abuse of the Children’s Act to breach the “Right to a Private and Family Life” threshold to poke into people’s private life to gather intelligence and watch their families when no abuse has taken place.

I think this is a serious tendency to restrict people’s right to move freely to live in the privacy of their own homes and for health or social professionals to snoop into their lives and gather data for social “research”.

For example a person can be ‘attacked’ repeatedly to be declared at risk, their children to be declared at risk and that will then allow social workers to enter the families’ home at will without appointments and at least every 10 days. The Children’s Act further allows Social Services to start care proceedings if they want.

False reports can be used to initially assess families to gain entry into their homes and snoop around. That is just not good enough and it is a sin that the tragic Baby P is taken as an excuse to reduce people’s freedoms and rights.

Ironically a person at risk cannot be moved to an area of safety with the influence of Social Services or Social Workers who  have no say on housing needs or geographical area of housing of a person. But if a vulnerable person, like for example an abused women is housed next to an ex-partner, who threatened her before then this woman is put on an “At risk register” instead of moving her in another location on recommendation of social services. This situation is then again used as an excuse to keep the child of that woman on an “At Risk Register” because the former partner is in the vicinity and could potentially be harming the child.

Instead of moving that woman and child to a different location, and into safety, the councils now rather leave them in the danger zone and declare them at risk.

Enough said, its crazy.

Yet to add a further sad twist to this story, victims of abuse in Tower Hamlets are housed within the vicinity of their tormentor and asked by social workers to prove how well they can defend themselves. If they do not well enough, defending themselves, then their children are taken into care. It is true and absolutely despicable that something sadistic as this can happen under the mantle of child protection in Tower Hamlets today.

Tower Hamlets council now uses ‘Agency Social Workers’ these are obscure persons who come into homes and use a set agenda, one of which is to be provocative to “test” a person’s mental stability. Nobody knows what qualifications that Agency social worker has, where they come from, what their own personal qualifications or problems are. This is held strictly confidential so that anybody today can become an agency social worker and is send around people’s homes to assess them.

That can include social workers that do not speak sufficient English, Social Workers that have no transparent qualifications. They do not need to show any sign of any qualifications that is easily recognisable, they can be from any walk of life and work as social workers via an agency. Any query about a social worker’s actual qualifications are refused because of the data protection act.

Social workers do not seem to need any proper and long-standing qualifications before they are send into people’s homes to mess with their emotions and/or lives, that is dangerous and puts people’s lives at risk.

Healthy living in Tower Hamlets

I have read many stories that there is a problem with obesity in Tower Hamlets, which led some to call for Free School Meals for all. I agree that this is a good way to regulate what children eat during the day and prevents overindulgence in unhealthy foods. Yet we also have to look at the source of obesity and there are several reasons in my view, which include but are not exclusive to,

  • lack of exercise cause by lifestyles, which include electronic entertainment, lots of it, does not require physical activities to do them, home deliveries for shopping
  • stress caused by living conditions and lack of proper education

Interestingly Tower Hamlets has a healthy living campaign but in the course of that campaign many green gardening schemes were introduced on council estates but playgrounds for children were removed to make way for gardening schemes, which I think is questionable to do so. Children do need the exercise that playgrounds provide, they also need healthy food but considering how densely food outlets are found in most parts of Tower Hamlets, getting fresh fruit and vegetables is no problem at all. Considering how little can be grown and how cheaply one can obtain fruit and veg, I think it is not very beneficial to remove playgrounds for the sake of a couple of vegetable plots, that yield hardly enough for a couple of meals.

Stress is another factor, that makes people eat.  I have found myself that it is very difficult to get involved in any service in Tower Hamlets that is not automated and strictly regulated in the way they are conducted. The lack of good education, that is evidenced in the most recent OECD statistics, shows on the personal skills that facilitators of social exercise and social services have these days. The stress of that lack of education and personal skills could make people overeat. See also my post Labour ruined Education.

When anti-social behaviour is a crime

I just read through the latest Scrutiny Challenge Session of Tower Hamlets Council on the effectiveness of THEOs, which stands for Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers.

In that report it says in page 401 that despite crime has fallen for the 6th year running the fear of crime remains the top priority for residents in 2009/10 and why? It is because the fear of crime that is the main concern. ASB, standing for Anti Social Behaviour is not always a top priority for the police but this Anti social behaviour is the reason for most residents to  feel their quality of life is considerably lowered. But it is this low-level crime that makes residents consider crime a major priority. Most people never come face to face with the hard crime but most of us see and feel anti-social behaviour on a wide scale.

It is with this in mind that I want to mention the very sad case of Fiona Pilkington again, whose family bring a court case because they think the authorities were negligent. Fiona called police 33 times but was only visited 8 times. Fiona had eggs, flour, stones thrown at her house by up to 16 youths over 10 years.

Mrs Pilkington then finally cracked and killed herself and her daughter from the strain and inability to cope.  It must have been particularly hard because there is learning disability involved. This case shows how vulnerable people need special protection and how much more needs to be done to root out anti-social behaviour to achieve a wide-spread and wide-felt improvement in the quality of life for our residents.

Neil King, Mayoral candidate in the forthcoming elections for Tower Hamlets Mayor on 21 October 2010 promises to take ASB seriously. See his newest election leaflet here.

What makes a good social worker?

You might have guessed it from my latest twitter entries that something is brewing up about social work.

Well what makes a good Social Worker? To say it in the style of my late husband, he would say, a good social worker is someone who knows a bit about this, that and the other.  Comprehensive enough?

Lots of common sense, knowledge about human nature, knowing about financial abilities and restrictions of certain social groups, also helps in being a good social worker of course, I see heads nodding.

The question of what makes a good social worker also borders on the issue of where does social care end and where does unlawful intrusion in private and family life start. Social working is a very private and touchy subject and too many details spoil the issue but as a matter of principle, social workers should never intrude in people’s lives to justify breaches of private and family life, unless of course there is a known history of law breaking in that household.

It worries me a lot if I come in contact with a social worker who says to me that she is very keen on cleansing, using the word cleansing and not cleanliness in a borough that only just narrowly avoided the erection of an “Arbeit mach Frei” style Muslim arch over Brick Lane. Well, the abbreviation for Social Services is without doubt SS.

Care in the Community

Francisco Goya, The Madhouse

 

With the greater flexibility of social care tenants, and especially those with persistent mental health problems and those who have psychotic clinical conditions, often aggravated by illegal drugs, the Care in the Community provision seems out-dated and ineffective. 

When social housing was provided by councils on housing estates with long-term tenants, it was easy for a locally stationed housing or estates officer, who knew his customers well to check those in need of extra health provision, with the abandonment of permanently stationed local service workers it has become incredibly difficult to watch those in constant need of supervision. 

Often people with clinical psychosis look just like you and me  but can often, in the matter of social relationships,  become dangerous to partners, girlfriends and others they chose to interact with. This may often end up with GBH or OABH that repeats itself over and over with new and unsuspecting persons, entering in communication with someone they believe to be friendly. 

Yet there is no warning available if persons are known to repeatedly attack those they get into relationships with. We do now have a step forward to Sarah’s law but very little information about adults that just cannot cope with other people and end up attacking them sooner or later. 

Today we have flexible housing arrangements, the ability to move wherever someone chooses and remote and out-sourced care workers who have no long-term knowledge of patients or the social network they usually converse with. 

It is practically impossible for a person to know if somebody they meet in a pub has a string of GBH offences on their record or not, they have to experience an attack before they realise the danger.  Is it really fair to the rest of a community to protect the privacy of one dangerous individual and allow that individual to keep on causing harm to others who do not know him/her or is it in the interest of the community to disclose such problems. 

It is obvious to me that people with mental heath care needs, often cannot get the treatment and supervision they require and offenders are allowed to carry on their trade until they harm someone so severe that a long custodial sentence will keep them off the streets. 

Is that fair to the rest of us, or isn’t there something in between that helps prevent victims? Why do we always need victims to put someone away for a long time, we should have an intermediate solution whereby people with known drug and/or mental health problems get screened or have to live in some sort of sheltered accommodation. 

Why not introduce mental health screenings especially for those that have already fallen foul of the law and are known to take drugs and/or attacked others.

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