Monday, 24 December 2007

'Stop Injustice Now' Wishes Everyone The Best Christmas They Can Have

To All Our Supporters!

We Wish You A Christmas That Is Not To Painfull And Hopefully A Better New Year!

To Social Worker and People Working In Child Protection.

Let's Hope The Social Workers & People Who Steal Children, All Get Pissed, And Full Under A Lorry, Bus Or Tube. And Just Maybe Not Die, But Live The Rest Of Their Lives In Pain.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

'Stop Injustice Now' Supporting Real Fathers For Justice

Two activists from the campaign group Real Fathers For Justice:

Two activists from the campaign group Real Fathers For Justice (RFFJ), scaled a building directly opposite the Minshull Street Crown Courts in Manchester in protest against the treatment of the two campaigners who are on trial nearly 3 years later for the handcuffing of MP Margaret Hodge, back in November 2004, both faced trial by jury for false imprisonment which can carry a life sentence the court case lasted 3 weeks costing the tax payer £500,000.Jason Hatch, 35, and Jonathan Stanesby, 41, ambushed the MP at afamily law conference in Salford in November 2004.Mr Stanesby handcuffed himself to Mrs Hodge's wrist in a 'citizen'sarrest'.He confronted her with accusations that she had ignored warningsabout a children's home paedophile ring while a council leader inNorth London in the 1970s and 1980s.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

BBC One - Hard Christmas - 'Runaway'

15 Year Old Laura Has Run Away From Home More Than 150 Times In The Last Two Years. This Intimate And Emotional Portrait Tries To Work Out What She Is Running Away From!
If You Have Been Affected By Any Of The Issues Please Visit The BBC Web Site:
Or Call Their Help Line:
08000 934 999

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

New Important Update To 'Stop Injustice Now' Main Site!

Some Parts Of 'Stop Injustice Now' Main Site May Not Be Updated Until Early January, Major Update Taking Place, Including Help With Court Papers, Forms and Includes All The Law Acts Used In Child Care. Please Bear With Us, On This Important Update!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

County Hall pledge to win back its stars

Full Article and Credits:
We will win back our four-star rating - that was the pledge from County Hall bosses following a disappointing review of its children's services department. Earlier this year Norfolk County Council was awarded the coveted four stars by the Audit Commission for its overall performance. However, next year one of those stars will be lost because the council's children's services department has fallen from a good grade three to an adequate grade two following an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). Although the council insists the loss of the four star status will not see it punished financially, they will be striving to regain the star the council looks set to lose when the annual performance assessment is done in February. The council's children's services department has had a difficult year, with a growing number of schools in special measures, including some in Norwich, record numbers of children in care and problems in improving performance at GCSE. But Lisa Christensen, the council's director of children's services, said her department was striving to improve and outlined work which was in place to help tackle the schools which have gone into special measures. She said: We are dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people in Norfolk and have evidence that we are making real progress in a number of areas to transform the way services to families and children are delivered in the county. Our overall grade has dropped from last year despite the fact that we have improved or maintained performance in the majority of our performance indicators and it is clear that there is more work to do. Ofsted's ruling is disappointing but we will not let it detract from our determination to improve the opportunities and outcomes for all of Norfolk's children. That work is already in hand.

Church of England publishes full protocol and guidance on child protection

Full Article and Credits:
Following public criticism, several embarrassing cases resurfacing from the past and a painstaking subsequent review of procedure, the Church of England has published its "model protocol" for handling child protection cases.
The publication follows the announcement of the key principles of the review of past child protection cases by Church of England dioceses on 25 October 2007.
The House of Bishops Standing Committee finalised the protocol at its recent meeting, the Church announced yesterday.

Report finds child begging up by 30%

Full Article and Credits:
Sightings of child begging increased by 30 per cent in the last year, a study has found. The number recorded nationwide in 2006/2007 was 1,083 compared with 756 in 2005/2006, according to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). The research, carried out by the ISPCC's Leanbh programme which protects children at risk on the streets, is being used as part of a public awareness campaign launched today to highlight the dangers of child begging. Leanbh manager Mary Nicholson said the hike was due to both a change in legislation making it no longer illegal for adults to beg and the growing numbers of Roma in Ireland. "The statistics from the Leanbh service show that there has been a significant increase in sightings of children begging," she said. "During the last year, there has been a shift in the profile of child begging. "Due to recent changes in legislation it is no longer illegal for an adult to beg. "However, under the 2001 Children Act, child begging represents a serious child protection concern that puts children at risk on every level, whether they are begging alone or with an adult," she said. The key message in the campaign is 'Giving Money Is Not The Answer'.


Full Article and Credits:
Parents of a vulnerable man beaten to death by his unofficial carer today branded his killer an "evil, wicked man". Stephen Gale, who had special needs, was subjected to months of torment, violence, starvation and abuse by Andrew Green at their shared home in Mowmacre Hill, Leicester. Yesterday, Mr Gale's family cheered in court as Green was jailed for nearly 23 years. Mr Gale's mother Maureen, 55, said: "Green is an evil, wicked man. We are absolutely elated that he got more than 22 years and we feel we have got justice for the family and for Stephen. "I especially loved it when the judge said, 'take him down' and he was led away to start his sentence. "It's been a year now since we lost our son and nothing will ever bring him back, but he is safe and at rest now." When he died, the 28-year-old weighed less than six stone, half the normal body weight for his 5ft 11ins frame. A final fatal attack on October 25 last year left Mr Gale with a catalogue of injuries. As Stephen's body lay on the floor of the shared home in Garth Avenue, Green callously ordered his wife, Claudette (31), and housemate, Lisa Smith (27), to lie to police, blaming someone else for the injuries. Green (41), who admitted murder, was the bullying "leader of the pack," of the shared dysfunctional household. He controlled the finances, and took Steven's benefit money and cash sent by Mr and Mrs Gale, of Little Hampton, Sussex, who had no idea of their son's terrifying ordeal. Nirmal Shant, prosecuting, said neighbours had seen Green, and occasionally the two women, attacking the victim in the street. She said Stephen once tried to escape a beating by leaping out of an upstairs window, but he did not complain of mistreatment. He died from multiple injuries, internal bleeding and shock. Miss Shant said: "The fatal attack was sustained. He fell to the ground and continued to be attacked, trying what little he could to defend himself and was left for dead for some time before the ambulance was called." Green, who has an IQ of 72, in the bottom three per cent of the population, told police another man had attacked Mr Gale away from the home. He told officers: "I was like a carer for Steve and looked after him for so long. He meant the world to me."

Government under fire after three new data mix-ups

Full Article and Credits:
A FURTHER series of embarrassing losses involving confidential personal data put new pressure on the government yesterday. First, it emerged two computer discs with details of more than 7,000 Northern Ireland motorists had got lost in the post after being sent to the DVLA in Swansea. Then it was disclosed that confidential personal details of dozens of prisoners, including their criminal records, had been delivered to a private company instead of going to Norfolk Police. And trade unions on Merseyside revealed that personal details of 1,800 health-authority staff, including their salaries and pension details, had been accidentally sent out to a number of private firms. The latest security breaches followed the loss by HM Revenue and Customs of two computer discs containing the entire child benefit database, with details of 25 million people.

From the vaults

Full Article and Credits:
Thirty years ago * A report on Community Care's "Off Load" page (Backchat's venerable predecessor) paints a more racy and less politically correct picture of the social care past. An unnamed but "extremely handsome" social services director was reported as falling foul of one "raven-haired Jezebel". The article quoted the director as describing his beau as a "gorgeous bit of fluff", before detailing the breakdown of the relationship. Apparently, she told our lovelorn leader "To get your fuckin' bollocks out of here", to which our social care boss replied with a fist. The court took a dim view and ordered the social services director out of the shared flat and to take his goldfish with him. The woes continued when the director forgot that responsibility for homeless people had been transferred from his department to housing - which took a dim view of his antics. Still, I presume being "extremely handsome" meant that he had no problem finding a place to sleep. Can you imagine the current crop of social services chiefs being involved in such a scandal? * Twenty years ago Every journalist's fear, a 31 December issue (yes we had to work through Christmas during the height of Thatcherism), had an editorial outlining several child abuse inquiries and pointing out that 1987 was another poor year for child care. It also highlighted the discovery of a "new phenomenon": child sexual abuse. This was defined as either "deliberate exploitation for pornographic purposes" or sexual abuse by a member or friend of the family. The conclusions of the inquests and reviews are familiar: "Workers under intolerable pressureforced to make difficult decisionstoo few resources". The editorial ends with a call for more training and powers, and to entertain the idea of a single agency to deal with child abuse. Twenty years on and the call for more training and resources remains a familiar refrain. * Ten years ago That well-known Christmas conundrum was written about by columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: whether to send Christmas cards to your friends who follow other religions and involve them in the festivities, or do you assume they wouldn't want to? This question still exercises the brain cells of many councils. Some ignore the problem others ignore Christmas. Some pioneering councils even risk ridicule by creating their own festival, giving it a non-Christian theme, leaving out the nativity play but keeping the presents and decorations. This reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld episode where George and Frank Costanza (George's father) celebrate "Festivus" on 23 December with such rituals as the Airing of Greivences ("I've got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're going to hear about it!"), the Christmas aluminium pole (instead of a decorated tree), and Feats of Strength where the head of the household challenges all comers to a wrestling match ("George, didn't your Dad used to wrestle you to the ground.

Child trafficking and slavery in the UK

Full Article and Credits:
The two brothers walked through our office doors at Afruca - Africans Unite Against Child Abuse. Sobbing, they recounted details of their terrible experiences spanning many years at the hands of various relatives to whom they were sent as children for a "better life" by their mother following the death of their father in Nigeria. They ended up as domestic slaves.
Now in their mid-twenties, the two young men have spent the bulk of their lives in the UK in abject penury. Denied the opportunity of a decent education, they are now homeless, jobless and unable to produce any documentation as proof of their identities. Effectively, they are in limbo, living from hand to mouth, not sure of their next meal or their next bed for the night. These two young men are part of a growing underclass of young people trafficked into the UK as child slaves.
Over the past six months, as a result of a media campaign ran by Afruca on African satellite TV stations, we have continued to receive young people who have tales of woe similar to the two brothers. We have supported at least 15 young people in various ways since January 2007 to enable them deal with the impact of trafficking and exploitation so they can move on with their lives. While all their stories are different, their experiences of abuse and exploitation as domestic slaves are very similar. More and more young people are coming to us for help, evidence of the growing phenomenon of child domestic slavery in this country.
Our experience is supported by recent research into child trafficking. A recent report produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) identified 330 victims of trafficking, a third of them coming from different African countries with most of them destined for domestic slavery. This is corroborated by the results of another study on child trafficking in the north of England by ECPAT UK.
Nigerian problem?
Without wishing to stigmatise any community, it is pertinent to add that all the 15 victims mentioned above, including the two brothers, are of Nigerian origin. In the same vein, all the victims of domestic slavery identified in the two research reports referred to above are also all from Nigeria. As a Nigerian myself, this fact is quite disconcerting. Why are Nigerian children being trafficked into the UK for domestic slavery?
The practice of using children for domestic servitude is undoubtedly a very common phenomenon in Nigeria itself. According to local non-governmental organisations campaigning against this practice, almost every middle class household employs domestic servants many of whom are children. Due to the growing poverty level, the widening gap between rich and poor Nigerians, many parents are wont to give their children to better off relatives in the belief that they will be well looked after and given an opportunity of either going to school or learning a vocation. However, most of these children end up being used as slaves and servants.
Yet the idea of giving children away to relatives is nothing new or strange in many African countries. The practice of fostering, where children are given to relatives to look after is not an act borne out of cruelty or ignorance. In the past, this system has afforded many children from poor backgrounds the opportunity of a good education leading to a prosperous future. The notion that it takes a village to raise a child meant that the extended family were responsible for ensuring children had access to a decent life which their poor parents were unable to give them. Unfortunately, this system of community support has been abused by unscrupulous individuals with ulterior motives. The sad case of Victoria Climbie, the Ivorien girl trafficked into the UK and tortured to death by her relative comes to mind here.
The estimated two million Nigerians here are probably the most rooted nationals from any African country in the UK, bearing in mind that many have been living or visiting the country since the 1960s and 1970s. With a growing middle class population, it is not surprising that the practice of fostering is equally taking hold here as well. Unfortunately, however, many children and their parents have been deceived into coming to the UK for a so-called better life and a good education. Instead, these children end up being used as slaves, to look after the families of their exploiters and cater for their every need. Many have been subjected to a life of suffering, multiple abuse, excessive child labour and harm. Instead of the better life and the good education promised, only a childhood of exploitation awaits.
The physical abuse experienced in many cases result in long-term poor health. Some of the victims we worked with at Afruca were also sexually abused by their exploiters. Most terrible of all is the rupture with their own families. A young girl we supported was brought into the UK at the age of nine years. Now at the age of 19 she has never been in touch with any member of her immediate family as she was prevented from doing so by her exploiters. It is doubtful whether she will ever be able to locate them.

Community group fears closure

Full Article and Credits:
A NORTHSIDE community group that provides vital adult education and training services fears it may be forced to close if a major Government childcare scheme comes into force next year. Trinity Adult Resource Group for Education and Training (TARGET), which operates out of St Kevins National School, Donaghmede, said the proposed new Childcare Subvention Scheme could devastate their services. The new scheme will mean that community childcare services will receive financial support to enable them to provide reduced childcare fees to parents who are in receipt of social welfare payments and Family Income Supplement (FIS). However, such subventions will not be available in respect of parents who are not in receipt of those payments, meaning low-income working families will be forced to shell out for costly childcare facilities. Local groups and public representatives said this could force many parents out of work and onto the social welfare system and make many community education and employment groups redundant. Speaking to Northside People, Heidi Bedell, Community Employment (CE) supervisor at TARGET, said the group would be under enormous pressure to continue providing all its services. Ms Bedell said Government funding currently allows TARGET to operate a free drop in creche centre for parents who wish to avail of one of its courses or to go back to work. She said that if this funding is taken away from the group and provided only to parents on social welfare to cover their childcare costs, TARGET would lose a huge section of people taking part in their courses. The new system will mean we will no longer be able to offer our free drop-in creche, Ms Bedell stated. This has the potential to completely devastate TARGET and our group could be lost to the community altogether. Ms Bedell has urged Minister for Children, Brendan Smith, to reconsider the plan. The current system of funding has been really good for us, she added. It allows us to employ two permanent childcare workers for the creche, and the majority of the other services we provide are reliant on this. Speaking at a recent private Dail debate on the issue, Dublin North East TD Terence Flanagan (FG) pleaded with Minister Smith to rethink the Childcare Subvention Scheme.

Call for more alcohol abuse cash

Full Article and Credits:
Experts debating how to tackle substance abuse in Scotland will hear that more money needs to be spent on reducing alcoholism. Dr Bruce Ritson will say that funding is often focused on drug addicts. But the chairman of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems believes drink causes just as many social and health difficulties. He will be speaking at the Glasgow Addiction Services Christmas conference in Clydebank. Dr Ritson also feels GPs and hospital staff should be taught how to recognise alcohol abuse at an early stage, and give advice on getting help. The conference will also hear from Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing who will focus on the challenges ahead, along with child protection issues.

This Is Crystal Walton's Life Story Book In Pictures!

Crystal Walton Was Stolen By Enfield Social Services
Sarah and Myself Were Never Given The Opportunity To Make Crystal Life Story Book, So I Have Put All Of The Photo's I Could Find Of Crystal On Here! These Are Pictures Of Crystal Walton Taken In The 2 Short Years We Were Allowed To Be With Her, Before She Was Stolen By Enfield Social Services!
This Is Crystal Walton's Life Story Book In Pictures!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Everyone 'has a moral duty' to help children at risk

Full Article and Credits:
INDIVIDUALS have a moral duty to watch out for children at risk because of drug-abusing parents, Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said today. He dismissed the idea that such an approach amounted to snooping and insisted child protection was "everyone's business". In a speech to a drugs conference, Mr Ewing said up to 60,000 youngsters across Scotland were affected by their parents' drug misuse. He said: "These are shocking an unacceptable statistics. "We are creating a very dangerous situation, which - if left unchecked - could have grave consequences of future generations, in terms of health, life chances, future drug addiction, alcoholism and crime." It is two years ago this month since East Lothian toddler Derek Doran died after apparently drinking methadone. A murder charge against his mother Lisa Dodds, 26, of MacFarlane Court, Elphinstone, was dropped earlier this year. Mr Ewing said child protection would form a key plank of the Scottish Government drugs strategy due to be published next spring. And he said it would focus on prevention, early intervention and support for children and families. But he added: "I return once again to a sense of morality. We have to accept our responsibility for the health and well being of future generations. "Of course, there is a significant responsibility on agencies to get it right - especially when it comes to protecting children. "But it is also incumbent on us as individuals and communities for us to take responsibility for our neighbours and fellow citizens. "Everyone needs to be vigilant to the terrible situations of children in drug-abusing households. "This is not about interfering, but protecting the safety, health and life chances of our children. "Child protection is everyone's business." And he used the speech in Glasgow to appeal to members of the public who wished to report concerns about a child to use the national child protection phone line. He said: "The call handlers will assess the information and provide help if it is needed. "It is a 24-hour-a-day, seven days a week service. Members of the public can call to discuss concerns and what happens next depends on the child's circumstances.

Wirral failed to make checks or offer support

Full Article and Credits:
Wirral Council has paid £10,350 compensation to two foster carers for failing to support them after an emergency placement.The council also failed to make even basic checks before placing two children in foster care, the Local Government Ombudsman found.The children, aged eight and 10, were those of the foster carer's former partner. They were placed with him and his adult daughter after claims of neglect were made against their mother in 2004.

Couple held on suspicion of 5 murders at care home

Full Article and Credits:
A husband and wife who manage a care home were arrested yesterday on suspicion of murdering five elderly residents. The arrests of Leigh Baker, the home’s cook, and his wife Rachel, a registered nurse, followed a police investigation that began after the death of Lucy Cox, 97, at the home in Butleigh, Somerset, on New Year’s Day. A police spokesman said the Bakers had been arrested “on suspicion of the murder of four women and one man, theft and unlawful possession of controlled prescribed drugs and attempting to pervert the course of justice”.Parkfields residential home was closed by social services after details of the investigation became public in March. Mrs Baker was first arrested on suspicion of administering a noxious substance five days after the death of Mrs Cox but was released on bail. Her husband was arrested soon afterwards and also released on bail. In the summer police exhumed the bodies of three residents whose deaths were regarded as suspicious. The remains of Nellie Mary Pickford, who died aged 89, Fred Green, who died in January last year aged 81, and Marion Alder, who died last July aged 79, were removed for tests and examination by a Home Office pathologist. The fifth suspicious death remains unidentified. In March the Commission for Social Care Inspection said that it was investigating a failure to notify the authorities and to complete paper-work in connection with seven deaths over a two-year period. The commission subsequently ordered the closure of the care home, saying that there had been a significant deterioration in conditions since a previous inspection. The home is owned by Mr Baker’s parents, Malcolm and June Baker, and has been managed by Rachel Baker since 1988. It housed an average of 16 elderly people in the main building and nine in sheltered housing. Parkfields passed an unannounced inspection by the commission on June 13 last year, in which it was credited on its “comfortable and homely atmosphere”. Its staff were described as friendly and were observed being “kind and caring towards residents”. An inspection on January 24 found that standards had dropped worryingly. Police were alerted and residents were rehoused by social services. The Coroner’s Office in Frome, Somerset, opened and adjourned an inquest into Lucy Cox on January 11. No inquest was carried out in connection with the other deaths. Neighbours of the Bakers, in a quiet suburban street in Glastonbury, described the couple and their 5-year-old daughter as “lovely people”. One said: “I’m really shocked. This is terrible for the local community because all the people at the care home are local.”

Trade secrets: supporting carers in the workplace

Full Article and Credits:
At some point in our lives more than half of us will become carers, whether it be for parents, a partner, family member, friend or child with special needs. What can employers do to help?
Endless energy, the ability to stay calm under enormous pressure, to make good decisions, juggle dozens of tasks, work independently and remain motivated. The perfect person spec? Perhaps, but what it actually describes are just a few of the qualities required to survive as a carer.
No wonder then that employers are beginning to look at how they can support the UK's estimated six million carers, many of whom are trying to hold down a job while looking after a parent, partner, relative, friend or child with special needs.
Factor in statistics which show that at some point in our lives more than half of us will be carers, and it's clear that, as we continue to live longer and work longer, there's an increasing need for business to embrace carers' needs as part of their efforts to encourage work-life balance.
No organisation can easily afford to lose that number of staff, especially as many of those will be aged between 45 and 64, and likely to be the organisation's most experienced employees.
First, recognise your carers
Thinking about how to care for carers in the workplace is a relatively new phenomenon, but in the last few years a slow trickle of legislation has begun to flow - most recently, the Work and Families Act, which places a statutory responsibility on employers to consider any request from carers who ask for flexible working.
As with most employment law, it tends to fall into the laps of human resources professionals to interpret such legislation, and ensure understanding and compliance across their organisation. But even as they do so, they face the same major challenge as any of the statutory and voluntary agencies supporting carers - finding out who the carers actually are.
That isn't only because many don't want their employers to know the full extent of their home responsibilities, in case it calls into question their commitment, or suitability for promotion. In many cases, carers fail to recognise themselves, and their need for extra support to 'keep all the balls in the air'. Often, it is only when the burden becomes so great that their health or wellbeing is at risk do they acknowledge the caring role, and by then many will have chosen to give up working altogether, since they cannot give up the relationship with the person they are caring for.
Over and above ensuring their organisation adheres to both the letter and the spirit of legislation, it is in raising awareness of the carer's role, creating a culture in which carers are able to identify themselves and feel comfortable about accessing support, that HR professionals can make the biggest difference.
Leaflets, posters advertising local support services, lunchtime sessions run by health and social service professionals who support carers, a small library of books that carers can borrow to help them fathom and access the myriad of health, social and voluntary services that can help with some aspect of their role, are all ways in which HR can begin to create that culture of awareness and acceptance.

Abuse: Who'll save our children now?

Full Article and Credits:
He wrongly accused a mother of killing her son. But should a leading paediatrician have been struck off? Jeremy Laurance argues that vilification will only make it harder to expose abuse One outcome of last week's decision by the General Medical Council to strike Professor David Southall off the medical register is certain. Children living in abusive families will now be at greater risk. What is harder to assess is who is responsible for this outcome: Professor Southall with his crusading zeal; or the GMC, desperate to shake off its image as a cosy club protecting doctors? Professor Southall was found guilty of serious professional misconduct for accusing a mother of drugging and murdering her 10-year-old son. The boy was found hanging from a curtain rail at his home in 1996. Professor Southall had been appointed by the Family Court as an expert witness to give his opinion on what had happened and to help them assess the vulnerability of a second child in the same household. The events took place nine years ago and the interview with the mother, identified as Mrs M, was conducted in the presence of a senior social worker. Professor Southall denied the woman's claim that he had accused her of murder, insisting that he had raised it as one possible scenario to explain her son's death. His account was backed by the social worker, who gave evidence to the GMC over two days based on handwritten notes made at the time. But the GMC chose to believe the evidence of the mother, dismissing the social worker's account. This has, unsurprisingly, alarmed other paediatricians working in child protection, who feel a key part of their defence against false accusations – the presence of an independent professional witness – has been demolished by the decision. Thirty-nine of them wrote a joint letter to the press setting out their anxieties about what many describe as a "perverse" decision. Patricia Hamilton, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics, warned in a statement immediately after the verdict: "We are very concerned that paediatricians and social workers will be deterred from undertaking child protection work and that children and young people will come to harm." Behind this coded message lies growing concern about what paediatricians say is a witch-hunt against them orchestrated by a small group of affected parents, aided by certain parts of the media. They refer to the "concerted campaign to deny the reality of child abuse" and point to the fact that while cases on the child abuse register fell by 28 per cent between 1995 and 2005 (so fewer children had protection), criminal convictions for abuse and neglect rose by 245 per cent (from 1998 to 2005). A second plank of the GMC's decision referred to Professor Southall's habit of keeping separate files on child abuse cases – he was found guilty of doing so in seven instances. This, according to Cassandra Jardine, writing in the Daily Telegraph, was an even more heinous crime: "A doctor who removes or destroys records cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said to be acting in the best interests of the child." Yet, the keeping of separate medico-legal notes, although not sanctioned, is widespread for the obvious reason that it is difficult to record sensitive information in a file to which the parents have access. Again, paediatric colleagues consider the GMC's verdict perverse. The chief requirement is that the records are clearly signposted so that professionals can locate one set from the other. The failure to do so was a key reason why Victoria Climbie, who suffered months of abuse before she was killed by her carers, slipped through the net. A third black mark against Professor Southall was that he had form. Three years ago he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct after he accused the husband of solicitor Sally Clark of murdering their children. He had seen Stephen Clark give a TV interview in which he said his two-month-old son, Christopher, had developed a nosebleed while in bed in a hotel room. Based on his experience of child abuse, Professor Southall believed that spontaneous nosebleeds were rare and often associated with trauma, such as that caused by attempted suffocation, and raised his concerns with the police. In the new case, the GMC cited his failure to apologise for this episode, which lent support to their overall conclusion that he had "a deep-seated attitudinal problem". But he has made clear in interviews since 2004 that he still believes he was right to raise concerns about Stephen Clark, and he was backed by 53 UK paediatricians in a paper in the American journal Pediatrics, which argued that the GMC's 2004 verdict "conflicted with child protection laws and guidance for professionals".

I can't say sorry for something I didn't do

Full Article and Credits:
David Southall, the disgraced paediatrician, explains why he remains unrepentant David Southall looks surprisingly calm for a man who has lost his job, his income and his reputation. The paediatrician and child protection expert was struck off by the General Medical Council last week for inappropriately accusing a mother, Mandy Morris, referred to in the hearing as Mrs M, of drugging and hanging her ten-year-old son, Lee. The ruling crowns a decade in which Southall, 59, has been targeted remorselessly by campaigners, mostly parents who believe that he has wronged them. In 2004 the GMC found him guilty of serious professional misconduct for accusing Sally Clark’s husband of murdering the couple’s two sons. Southall based his opinion on a TV interview with Mr Clark. He was suspended from child protection work. In last week’s ruling, the GMC’s fitness-to-practise panel criticised Southall for “deep-seated attitudinal problems”, illustrated by his refusal to apologise to the parents involved in the two hearings. Southall calls it “a massive miscarriage of justice” and says that he will appeal. Meanwhile, he remains unrepentant: “How can I say sorry for something I didn’t do? I did not accuse Mrs M, and my denial [of having made an accusation] was backed up by the experienced social worker who was there. I can understand how this last GMC panel – three lay people and an orthopaedic surgeon – could have empathy with Mrs M and find what they found. But that doesn’t make it the truth.” As for the Clark case, Southall still believes that he behaved appropriately. “If I say sorry for something I didn’t do just because a panel has found that I did it, even though I didn’t, all that does is compound the injustice and wrong of the situation. It would be intellectually dishonest to do so.” He likens it to saying sorry for a murder that he didn’t commit. Is it not high-handed to refuse to apologise? “I can see why people think that. But I’m not going to be dishonest about something just to make people believe I’m a nicer person.” It’s a good job that Southall doesn’t care greatly about making enemies. This is his analysis of why he has become so reviled by campaigners and the media: he has been hounded by “obsessive, distressed, disordered and vengeful” parents and campaigners who have fed a complicit media emotion-filled stories of families torn apart by overzealous doctors and social workers; he is legally unable to respond because child abuse is dealt with by family courts and the officials involved, including him, must observe confidentiality; postShipman, the GMC wants to look tough and has become a slave to public opinion; the GMC panels that have judged his competence were insufficiently qualified to do so because they included no specialists in child protection work. Not only have his judgments in child protection come under fire, but also his research on children with breathing difficulties. One newspaper suggested that he was implicated in the deaths of 28 babies. Southall says that he has been the target of “vexatious complainants”, who, by keeping him under investigation by both his hospital trust and the GMC, have ensured that he cannot speak out for fear of prejudicing his hearings. He was also advised to keep quiet by the Medical Defence Union, which has funded his legal representation. Now, he feels, it is time to break the silence: “I have been unable to defend myself for ten years. I am regarded in the public domain as somebody who researches unethically on babies – I have even been compared to Josef Mengele – and who falsely accuses parents of abuse, splits up families, and so on. That's not how I’m seen by patients and colleagues but it is how I’m seen by the campaigners. Because they have the ear of the media and because the GMC follows the public perception of people, that’s how and why I was described like that by the panel. Sir Roy Meadow and myself were made into hate figures in this country by the campaign and media coverage. “When you have predominantly lay panels [at the GMC] who cannot possibly be immune from public opinion, faced with me as a doctor, I don’t see how I could have obtained a fair hearing.”

The Seriously Unhealthy State of Paediatrics

Full Article and Credits:
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health [RCPCH) and several prominent U.K. paediatricians have given their unqualified support to Dr. David Southall, despite the fact that Mr Southall has been found to have guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council on two occasions in recent years. It must be presumed therefore that the RCPCH are fully in support of Mr. Southall’s conduct on those occasions and that they view his actions as acceptable conduct in the paediatric profession.
In the past the RCPCH have argued powerfully that patients of paediatricians should not be allowed to complain about the paediatrician’s conduct or incompetence or alternatively that such complaints should be automatically treated as frivolous or vexatious. They now add to this by arguing that even if such complaints are proven, then the paediatrician should be exonerated or at the least completely pardoned for his/her misconduct. The only argument the RCPCH can put forward for such a system is that finding paediatricians guilty of serious misconduct will deter other doctors from undertaking child protection work. They have already convinced the Courts that paediatricians should not be accountable for any professional misconduct when they are giving evidence to Courts and they use the case of Victoria Climbie’ to illustrate their point that children are suffering yet in that case there were 13 agencies, including health and medical workers, who already knew that Victoria Climbie’ was at serious risk of harm..
Who made paediatricians God for eternity that they should be viewed as unable to do any wrong?. If this is the state of paediatrics in the U.K. that paediatricians should be beyond reproach and completely unaccountable for any harm they may cause, then paediatrics really is in a serious state.
Why should the principle that `no-one is above the law’ and is responsible and can be held accountable for their conduct, not apply to paediatricians when it applies to monarchs and other State Leaders?. To place any individual or group above the law is the first step towards tyranny and the accompanying harm to others.
The case against Mr. Southall is part of a much wider malaise which has infected the child protection services in the U.K. and has illustrated yet again the deep-seated and problematic operations of the child protection system in the UK. And the British government continue to keep their heads in the sand regarding the very serious problems and dysfunctional operation of the child protection system in the U.K.
How many more children such as Victoria Climbie’ must die while child protection `professionals’ prevaricate and dither instead of taking incisive action and yet on the other hand, persecute children and parents where allegations of abuse are at the least spurious and of extremely dubious merit, and at worst are malicious and totally unfounded?. The worn-out cliché’s of `Damned if we do, and damned if we don’t’ and `Lessons have been learned’ are no longer acceptable as responses from those professionals when the very system designed to protect children and keep them safe from harm has in fact become the worst and most prolific perpetrator of child abuse and is increasingly destroying families around Britain. Some families who are entirely innocent of the crimes they are alleged to have committed against their children and others who merely require help in coping with the needs of chronically sick or disabled children or appropriate education provision for their children but because of the serious shortcomings and incompetency's in the agencies charged with providing those services, they are blamed by those agencies for causing their child’s sickness or disability.
The frequent Public Inquiries into child deaths and in Court and GMC proceedings over recent years have all painfully illustrated that the child protection system and the associated legal system is deeply-flawed, erratic, and dysfunctional and in urgent need of a major overhaul. Unfortunately changes to the system which have emanated from those Inquiries and Proceedings have been piecemeal and whilst some have led to minor improvements, many have caused even greater problems. Many parents who have experienced the punitive interventions of the child protection system feel that there is a witch-hunt against them and that their human rights and those of their children are frequently abused and violated and that they are the unwitting victims in a governmental inspired social engineering experiment. Their children have been removed from their care on the basis of fabricated, embellished, or distorted evidence or the flimsiest of such evidence and their children removed from their family into a government-supported system of substitute parental care and they have been permanently excluded from their children’s lives.
Many of these parents have shared their harrowing experiences with each other because of the increasing advances of technology and the worldwide availability of discussion forums, but there is no orchestrated campaign against the professionals involved, only individual fights for truth and justice in their individual cases. If all of those parents were to gather into a single organisation they would undoubtedly become an irresistible force for change.
If doctors and any other child protection professionals are becoming discouraged from undertaking child protection work then it is they who must examine how to put their house in order. It is the unprincipled, egotistical and tyrannical professionals who are creating the problems, not the parents.
Bringing actions against rogue professionals is almost impossible for these parents as those professionals have such little accountability under the law, their professional standards authorities, and under their employment contracts and it is this lack of accountability which has enabled such rogue professionals to flourish knowing their employers and a small minority of their colleagues will always support them under a mantra of “My professional colleague, right or wrong” as in this case with the RCPCH and the small group of paediatricians. Similarly employers of doctors and social workers are blindly defending their employees in order to protect themselves from any subsequent claims for damages which might arise from the improper actions of their employees.
But before any changes to the child protection system can be enacted there must be a full and open major Inquiry which gives the opportunity to these parents and their children to fully state their experiences as the small number of parents have been able to do at the GMC Hearings against Mr. Southall. The GMC Hearings in regard to Drs. Meadow, Southall, and San Lazaro are merely the tip of a massive iceberg of discontent at the serious miscarriages of justice and abuses and injustices which are daily perpetrated on children and families by social work and medical practitioners engaged in the child protection system. No family is immune or protected from these rogue professionals and as has been shown, even taking a seriously ill child to a hospital or medical centre can result in horrendous consequences if the doctor lacks the knowledge to diagnose the child’s illness or disabilities or has another agenda of research and development for his/her own purposes.

State Terrorism

Full Article and Credits:
What has become of Britain?. And England in particular?. When every honest parent and children live in a perpetual state of terror that they may be separated and never see each other again?. And it is not something that affects just those in low socio-economic groups but families at all levels of society – no one is exempt.
Britain has become a State where mothers are terrified to take their sick and poorly children to a hospital in case they are accused of abusing their child by causing the sickness! – or if their child falls from a bicycle or from a piece of furniture and injures his head they are afraid to take the child for medical treatment in case they are accused of causing the injury by shaking the child!. Where fathers are terrified of taking a photograph of his two small daughters running around in the back garden sprinklers without their clothes, in case he risks being accused of being a perverted paedophile!. Or he will be in the same state of terror if he dares to bath his small infant daughter.!.
Where teachers in residential schools are terrified of touching a child, even a distressed and unhappy child, in case they are accused of physical abuse!. Or social workers in a Children’s Home who are placed in the same situation.
Where elderly men living alone see glances of suspicion as they walk down the street or if they sit idly gazing from a park bench while mothers scurry past with their prams and toddlers and sneaking disgusted looks out of the corner of their eyes.
We have become not only fearful of the state police in the form of child protection workers but fearful of each other !.
So who and what has brought about this State of Terror in every parent and adult who works with children or is simply enjoying a day in the park?. It is the zealots of the child protection system who have now convinced everyone that child abuse is occurring in almost every household and park and street around the country.
It probably began in the 1980s with the horrors in Cleveland when children were torn from their beds in midnight or dawn raids by social workers while burly policemen held their parents captive in case they sought to prevent their children’s removal in the dead of night. And the children were taken off to a hospital where they were examined by doctors repeatedly peering and poking at their rectums while they cringed in fear and embarrassment.
Then began the purges of the teachers and social workers who had worked in residential schools. They were taken from their places of employment and held in the local police stations while they were interrogated for hours about fictitious incidents which had supposedly occurred twenty years previously and their accusers were now grown adults encouraged by proffered financial rewards to create accusations of abuse. Some of these unfortunate workers within the child care system were found guilty in Courts and were sentenced to long jail terms solely on the basis of the verbal evidence of the allegations of their accusers of fictitious events twenty years before – with no physical or forensic evidence to support their accusations and who had made no complaint of these alleged events in those twenty years.
Yet what is the true situation of child abuse in the U.K. and England in particular?. According to government statistics there are approximately 500,000 reports of child abuse every year in England and the zealots claim that this is “Only the tip of the iceberg of child abuse”. However less than 35,000 of such reports are found to have any form of substance to them when investigated by child protection workers whose claims of abuse having occurred in these small proportion of cases are of a very low standard of evidential proof !. And only a very small proportion of these ever reach the Courts to meet an evidential standard of proof of “On a balance of probability” which is based on a presumption of “more likely than not’ that abuse has occurred i.e. it only needs to be 51% proven to a Judge with no jury present.
To arrive at a Court the parents will have endured months of questioning – by social workers, and probably also by doctors, nurses, police etc and most likely will have to face the unjudicial Inquisition of a Child Protection Conference without legal representation and without formal legal protections. Yet it is extremely rare that they will ultimately be accused of anything so they are denied their day in Court. All that will happen is that their children will be removed from them by Court Order without naming the alleged abusers but by default they will be branded as the child abusers without a chance to defend themselves or clear their names. Even terrorists who threaten to bomb and maim innocent citizens are released from interrogation after a set number of days or are given a fair trial and competent legal representation to defend themselves.

Please write to your MP remind your Member of Parliament to sign EDM 529

Full Article and Credits:
EDM 529 is very simple and straight forward.
Those MPs who do not sign it, must be making a statement that they are sanguine about a 71 year old pensioner, with a heart condition, who is one of 2 carers for his 91 year old grandmother, being jailed for 20 months, for merely staying in contact with his 15 year old grandson. And this jailing took place in a secret court from which the press were banned.
The MPs who do not sign EDM 529 are stating that despite knowing that the government has announced often, that the prisons are too full to house convicted violent and sexual prisoners and are letting them out early; yet nevertheless, they fully agree that a 71 year old pensioner, Charles Taylor, from Poole in Dorset, with a heart condition, who is one of 2 carers for his 91 year old grandmother, should be jailed for 20 months, for merely staying in contact with his 15 year old grandson. And this jailing took place in a secret court from which the press were banned.
It should be remembered that the 15 year old grandson, has never done anything wrong. His mother died in 2002, when hw was 10, in the Nottingham area. There was no one else in the area to look after him, so he was taken into council care, in Nottingham. Whilst in care the grandson has been informing his grandparents ( in Poole ) that he is being abused by the officials in the care home. The grandparents were concerned. Because of their concern, they stayed in contact with him, but they were then slapped down with an injunction not to keep in touch with their grandson..........And this jailing took place in a secret court from which the press were banned......................So what do you think of this now?PLEASE GET YOUR MP TO SIGN THE EDM 529

The imprisonment of Charles Taylor (The 71 year old pensioner)

Full Article and Credits:
John Hemming MP & Robert Simms MP, have tabled an Early Day Motion concerning the imprisonment of Charles Taylor, ( the 71 year old pensioner from Poole in Dorset ) who has a heart condition who was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment for staying in contact with his grandchild who is in Care. The EDM 529 asks that the Home Secretary releases Charles Taylor immediately. The imprisonment of Charles Taylor is particularly reprehensible, when it is also known, that the government has made numerous announcements drawing attention to the lack of prison spaces for serious convicted criminals.
The EDM 529 will be published tomorrow in the usual segment of the House of Commons website and will then be given a number.
This EDM 529 will allow the press and media to identify Charles Taylor and to provide the background to a story which the authorities have been keeping from the public. It will clearly identify that Family Court secrecy has been used to conceal information that the government, social workers and other public officials are too embarrassed to have the press report. It also clearly identifies the gagging of the press and the clandestine restrictions on the freedom of speech.PLEASE GET YOUR MP TO SIGN THE EDM 529

A revolution in social care?

Full Article and Credits:
The government has announced what it hails as a revolution in social care. Money will now be placed directly into the bank accounts of those entitled to help, meaning they can pick and choose both the kind of care they want and who they want to provide it. So for instance, instead of meals on wheels, an elderly person could - in principle at least - use the money to pay for someone to come in and help with the cooking. Instead of respite care for a disabled person, the money could be spent on a holiday. Chris Moon-Willems, who took part in one of the pilot schemes for the new programme, helped her elderly parents to hire their own carers. "We now act as employers," she says. She is a great supporter of the new system, which she says provides much more freedom and flexibility to those who need support in their homes. The scheme, Putting People First, will be rolled out across the UK from next April. It will involve an extra £520m on top of the existing social services budget over the next three years, and according to the prime minister, puts "real control into the hands of those in care and their carers". But concerns have been raised as to who will benefit, and whether it is really wise to place potentially complex decisions into the hands of some of the most vulnerable members of society. Market forces There will of course be restrictions on how the money is spent, and safeguards against people dipping into the budget for items one would be hard pressed to describe as care related. The money is paid into a bank account which is separate from the individual's own current account: under the pilot scheme, every month the local authority received a statement, detailing how the money has been spent. It must only go on items which have been agreed in a care plan, but this could include anything from membership fees to a local club in place of attending a day centre, or a hotel break instead of respite care. When it comes to services such as cleaning, cooking or providing personal assistance, those entitled will be able to employ who they wish: while the details have yet to be finalised, it is not unfeasible that a relative or neighbour could be engaged to take on these tasks.

David Southall struck off medical register - Reported In 'Family Law Week'

Full Article and Credits:
Professor David Southall has been struck off the medical register. The move followed a verdict of serious professional misconduct for his role in a case where he falsely accused a woman of drugging and killing her 10 year old son. He had previously been found guilty for the same charge for his role in the Sally Clark case.
The verdict has caused concern among a number of paediatricians. Dr Patricia Hamilton, the President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, was "saddened" by the decision, adding that
"David Southall has made a major contribution to child health both nationally and internationally and has been a strong advocate for children during a distinguished career.
Sadly there are circumstances where parents may have harmed their children, and in these situations health professionals have a statutory duty to act on their concerns and look after the best interests of the child. This is clearly defined in the Government's document 'Working Together to Safeguard Children'.
We are very concerned that paediatricians and social workers will be deterred from undertaking child protection work, and that children and young people may come to harm."
Other paediatricians have also voiced their concerns in the national media. Nigel Speight, a retired paediatrician, has written a piece published in The Observer in which he says that the decision has left the profession in despair. Professor Southall also defended himself on the Today programme on Thursday 6 December claiming that

Elderly set free, but children shackled

Full Article and Credits:
Here's an eye-catching initiative for you: the Government wants to nationalise the child-rearing business. Not for nothing was the old ministry for education renamed the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Clearly, its scope is going to extend far outside the classroom. Its Secretary of State, the chief Brownite Ed Balls, having lost confidence in the private sector distribution of discipline, psychological stability and social behaviour, is to bring the free market in domestic responsibility under centralised supervision. According to the advance leaks, tomorrow's announcement of the Brave New Childhood will be what they call far-reaching: it will reach right into the living rooms of every household that the ministry believes to be failing the nation. It isn't just schools that will have targets now: the performance of parents will be monitored and assessed on detailed goals for their children's achievement set by Whitehall. Children from "disadvantaged" (euphemism for delinquent) homes may be whipped away to state nurseries as young as two, presumably in order to remove them forcibly from the influence of their useless families. And parents who do not demonstrate sufficient "engagement" with their child's academic performance will be... well, we haven't heard all the details yet. Bizarrely, this Orwellian package of state-monopoly child production is being announced at the same time as a quite antithetical new approach to the way elderly people are to be treated by the Government. From next April, it seems that old people are to be given quite unprecedented freedom to spend the care allowances which are provided for them as they see fit, rather than as social workers believe is best for them. If this plan turns out to be as radical as it is cracked up to be - always an open question with this Government - it will be a genuine step away from the most pernicious aspects of welfare dependency: passivity and the loss of self-determination. According to advance reports, old people are to be given the money, the actual money, to which they are entitled, and permitted to use it to purchase more or less food or nursing or cleaning help if and when they want. They will be free to choose their home helps and carers and to decide the priorities of their domestic lives. Imagine that. Grown-ups being able to decide for themselves who is to help them and how much care they require. Of course, they may occasionally make eccentric or unwise choices, as adults - especially elderly ones - sometimes do. They may even be prey to grasping relatives if they are in possession of cash rather than simply on the receiving end of administrative judgments. But that is a risk that needs to be taken, says the Blairite Health Secretary Alan Johnson, if older people who wish to live independently, but need some assistance to do it, are to be given the control over their own lives which they have a right to expect. Sounding for all the world like a Tory think-tank report or, dare I say it, a commentator on this newspaper, Mr Johnson hails this move as a "radical transfer of power from the state to the public". Everyone, he says, has the right to "self-determination and maximum control over their own lives". Except parents, apparently - since Mr Johnson's colleague over at the Department for Interfering in Family Life is busily laying out his blueprint for 24/7 surveillance of parenting techniques and a kind of Maoist re-education programme for families who do not subscribe to the official view of what is good for them and for society. Some contradiction here, surely? No coincidence, of course, that these two distinct and contradictory philosophical tendencies are emanating respectively from the most high-profile Brownite and Blairite exponents in the Cabinet. While Mr Balls is constructing more Brownian mechanisms of central control over his area of social policy, Mr Johnson is beavering away at dismantling overweening state controls in his. I think we have a right to ask where this Government thinks it is going. Are we still in the (Blairite) business of reforming public services and welfare programmes to give more power to people over their individual conditions? Or are we heading for a galvanised (Brownite) commitment to the belief that the state can and should intervene in every aspect of national life which is thought to be unsatisfactory?

TACT: Care Proceedings Programme

Full Article and Credits:
A partnership of Government Departments and agencies has commissioned Children Law UK, part of TACT, to deliver inter-agency training to support reforms to the care proceedings system which are to be introduced next Spring. The Public Law Outline (PLO), which will replace the current Protocol for managing care cases, and revised statutory guidance to assist local authorities in preparing care applications, are to be introduced from April 2008. Together they aim to reduce unnecessary delay and put the child at the heart of care proceedings by promoting better co-operation between all the parties involved. Training to support the introduction of the PLO and local authority guidance is taking place in England and Wales throughout February and March. The steering group responsible for overseeing the implementation of the PLO includes representatives from Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS), Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF), Welsh Assembly Government, Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru, the Local Government Association, the Legal Services Commission and Association of Directors of Children’s Services. The training courses will be delivered through 25 inter-disciplinary seminars across England & Wales and is targeted at social workers, local authority legal advisers, legal practitioners, family court staff and Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru staff. The seminars will be delivered by experienced family legal experts and will equip attendees with the necessary skills and knowledge they will require to be able to cascade the training to their peers and colleagues. Places at the seminars are offered free to representatives of the various agencies involved in child care proceedings and interested individuals are encouraged to register their intererest now. A number of places are also available to book for a fee which will attract CPD accreditation from the Law Society, Bar Council and Institute of Legal Executives. Upon completion delegates will be ready to deliver the training and be provided with the relevant training materials including audio visual presentations. Bridget Prentice, Minister for Family Justice, said: “Children and families who become subject to care proceedings are among the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society. The Public Law Outline, together with the revised guidance for local authorities, will help achieve better outcomes for these children. It is important that they have safety and stability in their lives and that decisions as to their future are made fairly and as speedily as possible”. Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of TACT, of which Children Law UK is part of, said: “Children Law UK, part of Tact, is delighted to be delivering this training which will emphasise the multi-agency nature of this important work and illustrate the key roles taken by individual practitioners in the lives of children”

Schools to offer parents services

Full Article and Credits:
Schools in England may be asked to provide wider services for parents as well as children, under proposals in the government's Children's Plan. This could include help with housing, benefits, parenting skills and health within school-based centres - and a helpline offering parenting advice. The plan will also call for more information for parents about their children's learning and behaviour. But heads warned that schools could not "correct all the ills of society". The Children's Plan, setting out a 10-year strategy, will also propose a review of the primary curriculum in England and a shift to a more flexible form of testing. Commercial pressure There will be moves to protect youngsters from excessive commercial pressures - including advertising that makes children worry about their appearance and weight or which "sexualises" young girls. The importance of children having somewhere safe to play outside will also be emphasised. The plan, to be announced on Tuesday by the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, Ed Balls, will mark a further move towards schools becoming centres for family welfare services as well as teaching pupils. Schools are increasingly being seen as one of the few agencies that can effectively reach families facing difficulties - and their role is being expanded into areas once associated with social services. For pupils, there are already mentors and counsellors - and "extended" schools offer breakfast in the mornings and childcare activities into the early evening. But the government now wants schools to do more to support parents - with the type of family services on offer in children's centres being extended to schools. 'Overload' Social services information and welfare support for parents will be located in school buildings, along with counselling and advice for helping with their children's behaviour or health problems. There have been concerns that parents of secondary school pupils feel cut off from finding out about their children's progress - and there will be initiatives to make information more available to parents.

Hope for families who lost children

Full Article and Credits:
NORTH families who had children removed because of evidence from discredited paediatrician David Southall could have them returned, we can reveal. Solicitor General Vera Baird, who is also MP for Redcar, raised the possibility of a full review of these cases after the General Medical Council struck off the controversial doctor last week for serious professional misconduct. The GMC decided Southall had abused his position by falsely accusing a mother of drugging and murdering her son adding that he had a “deep-seated attitudinal problem”. It is the second time in three years he has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct. Ms Baird said: “I shall be raising the issue with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General, Patricia Scotland. Discussions will be held about how to deal with any criminal court cases David Southall’s evidence has played a role in.” The Teesside MP, who is a human rights expert and former barrister in the family court division, has tabled more than 100 questions into the now discredited condition Munchausen syndrome by proxy (Msbp), which Southall had used against parents. The condition was based on the theory that a carer — usually a mother — would harm someone to get attention for themselves. Before entering parliament Ms Baird helped highlight the case of a North mum who had two children taken into care after Southall accused her of having Msbp. He also accused the grandmother of the kids of having the condition. Solicitor Bill Bache, who is representing a number of North cases, said: “There is a very great need to review these cases. It is my experience that evidence by David Southall has been given in many cases.

The victimisation of David Southall is disastrous for abused children

Full Article and Credits:
The GMC decision to strike this doctor off the medical register exposes its ignorance and leaves professionals in despair, says senior paediatrician Nigel Speight Last week's decision of the General Medical Council to strike distinguished paediatrician Dr David Southall off the register is causing shock waves throughout the profession. Paediatricians are in despair at the controversy their work is attracting, and are worried about participating in child abuse cases. Junior doctors contemplating career choices will surely shy away from paediatrics in future. Already there is a practical consequence to the verdict in that many of the members of our group, Professionals against Child Abuse (Paca), may be reluctant to participate in the child death review panels being set up to scrutinise all cases of child deaths. Paca discussed the likely consequences of past and future actions in this area with the GMC last summer. We obviously failed in our attempts at quiet diplomacy. We feel the GMC as it currently functions is not 'fit for purpose' in assessing and judging cases involving child protection and we have lost all confidence in it in this area. David Southall was suspended from child protection work three years ago after raising concerns about an incident involving nasal bleeding and difficulty in breathing in the first baby in the Clark family 10 days before he died. This present case that has led to his erasure from the medical register concerned a woman whose 10-year-old son had been found dead in the family home from hanging. Her other eight-year-old son was subsequently taken into care because he was allegedly expressing threats to kill himself. Because of concerns about the possibility of an abusive cause for the first child's death, Dr Southall was instructed by the family court and social services to interview the mother and explore these issues. This he did in the presence of a senior social worker who took a written account of the whole interview. The mother claimed - and the GMC chose to believe her - that Dr Southall had accused of murdering her son: Dr Southall denied that he had said this or that he had interviewed the mother in an aggressive and intimidating manner and his statements on this were completely supported by the social worker who had been present throughout the interview. There has been an orchestrated and vindictive campaign against Southall ever since his work proving (with video evidence) that in some cases where babies presented with recurrent apnoeic attacks the cause was repeated episodes of smothering by the mothers. This important insight saved the lives of significant numbers of children but also inspired something akin to hatred among his opponents. These include an organisation fronted by the MAMA website (Mothers against Munchausen). Ringleaders in the campaign include Mrs Penny Mellor (who has reported Dr Southall to the GMC over 20 times, has accused him of murder and says she wants to see him behind bars), certain journalists and an MP, who has used parliamentary privilege to liken Dr Southall to Joseph Mengele in his 'experiments' (ie research) on children. All of this would be laughable if the GMC could be trusted to take a critical view of where these complainants are coming from. Unfortunately, it is under pressure from the government to be seen to be tough on doctors, so it could be said to have a conflict of interest. Even more serious, they are untrained and largely ignorant of the complex realities of child abuse and also of professional guidelines in the field. The panel in Southall's hearing consisted of three lay assessors and an orthopaedic surgeon. In finding him guilty of keeping 'secret', ie separate, records they showed their profound ignorance of normal practice. They chose to disbelieve the senior social worker who was present during the interview and kept a written record of what was said, and accepted instead the mother's story in its entirety. As it happens, Dr Southall had already been investigated and cleared by his employers on precisely the same charges regarding this mother's allegation eight years earlier, the panel then consisting of three paediatricians experienced in child protection work.

A bittersweet christening for the boy social workers couldn't take away

Full Article and Credits:
It was a simple, informal ceremony but one that symbolised a family's bittersweet struggle against the social services, the medical establishment and the British legal system. Brandon Webster was christened in front of his long-suffering parents Mark and Nicky and scores of family members, neighbours and friends in tiny St Martin's Church at Cromer, Norfolk. The service last Sunday was a fittingly joyful symbol of the couple's High Court victory over Norfolk's social services, who wanted to take 18-month-old Brandon into care straight from birth. But it was also a poignant reminder of the absence of their three older children, who can be identified only as Children A, B and C. They were seized by Norfolk County Council in November 2003 and forcibly adopted because of false claims of abuse. Mark, 34, and Nicky, 27, who fled to Ireland to stop Brandon being snatched at birth, this year mounted a successful legal challenge to Norfolk County Council's attempt to take him. The High Court heard new expert medical opinion that tiny fractures revealed on X-rays of Child B were not caused by violent twisting and shaking, as social services believed – but were symptoms of scurvy, a now rare vitamin deficiency caused by the family GP's advice that the child should be fed on soya milk deficient in Vitamin C. Nicky said: "We always find this time of year particularly difficult because we can't stop thinking of our other three children and what they will be doing at Christmas. "It was lovely to have all our family and friends in church for Brandon's christening. But it was heartbreaking that our other children could not be there.

Haunted by the nightmare of the secret family courts

Full Article and Credits:
After being suspected of child abuse, the Ward family are out to change the family justice system What do you think? Leave your comments in the box at the bottom of this page When hospital staff pulled the curtains around her son’s bed and asked: “Poor little baby. What have you been doing?”, Victoria Ward knew something was suddenly very wrong. A week earlier the Ward family, who live in Cambridge, had been at the height of their happiness. According to Victoria, they both had “good jobs, a secure marriage, a wonderful house and a three-month-old baby we had been planning, hoping for, wanting. Life was lovely”. With little William’s arrival, Victoria, now a baby-yoga teacher, threw herself into all the activities middle-class mothers love: swimming, massage, baby cinema. And when William had a restless night, Victoria, ever the careful mum, took him to the GP, not once but on three consecutive days until a doctor agreed that his leg looked swollen and sent the family to hospital for an explanation. Victoria, 34, and Jake, 35, sensible, professional people from supportive and stable families, are the last couple you could imagine being accused of child abuse. But in 2005, after William’s leg was x-rayed in hospital and found to have an unexplained fracture, that’s exactly what they were suspected of. Out of the blue, they faced a police investigation and the terrifying threat of their son being taken into care. Victoria’s parents had to move from Devon to live with them round the clock before they were allowed to take William home from hospital. Then began an 18-month nightmare encompassing parental assessments, endless reports from social workers and doctors and finally a court case. In cases of child abuse, the fate of families can turn on the evidence of doctors prepared to stand up as “expert witnesses” (often charging hundreds of pounds an hour) and give their opinion on whether or not a parent has harmed a child. In the criminal courts the evidence can lead to a mother or father being jailed. In the family courts – held in secret – a child can be taken away from its parents and fostered or adopted. Child protection is a controversial area, and in recent years some of the worst miscarriages of British justice have followed the testimony of so-called expert witnesses in the field, a number of whom have been accused of being zealots or just plain wrong in their willingness to blame parents – even those who protest their innocence – for children’s injuries. The conviction of the solicitor Sally Clark, jailed in 1999 after being wrongly convicted of murdering two of her children, was based on the evidence of Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who famously and – it later turned out – inaccurately testified that the chance of two of her babies having suffered cot death was one in 73m. Clark, 42, was freed on appeal in 2003 but never recovered, and died of acute alcohol intoxication at her home in March. Angela Cannings was another innocent mother wrongly convicted of murdering her child during a trial at which Meadow also gave evidence. She too was cleared by the Court of Appeal. Last week Professor David Southall, who has been described both as Meadow’s pro-tégé and as a pioneer in the detection of child abuse, was struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council (GMC). It ruled that he had abused his position by suggesting to Mandy Morris that she had drugged and murdered her 10-year-old son Lee. The child, who had been bullied at school, had in fact hanged himself from the curtain rail. The GMC said Southall had “deep-seated attitudinal problems”. Yet, far from apologising to those whose lives have been wrecked, the paediatrician struck a defiant note when he appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme. He was, he said, “an expert in life-threatening child abuse” and a victim of a vindictive campaign against doctors trying to protect children. “I am the expert and I know what I am talking about,” he insisted. Compared with Clark and Cannings, Victoria and Jake Ward were “lucky”. After a seven-hour wait in a police cell and interview room, where they were interrogated on suspicion of GBH and child cruelty, the police dropped the case. The county council, however, carried on with childcare proceedings. By the time the hearings started, Victoria – then pregnant with her daughter Hattie, who is now nine months old – knew her second child was also at risk of being taken away if the court found, “on the balance of probabilities”, that the couple had harmed their son. But, rack their brains as they might, their only explanation for how William could have fractured his leg was that he might have trapped it at night between the cot bars and caused the injury in trying to wriggle free. Over 10 months, Victoria, Jake and William visited no fewer than three expert witnesses – the judge wanted to hear a range of opinion. Finally, after a two-week hearing involving conflicting evidence from the experts, the couple were exonerated. “There is no cogent evidence that these parents injured their son,” the judge concluded. Now Victoria, who kept a video diary of the experience, is pressing ahead with a legal battle to be allowed to name the experts who gave evidence. Like many parents caught up in the trauma of trying to prove they have not harmed their children, she and Jake have found the secrecy of the family courts deeply disturbing. They believe it makes it difficult to right miscarriages of justice and hinders research into real medical conditions that may explain fractures and other injuries in babies. “I thought there had been a trend towards greater openness in the family courts after the miscarriages of justice of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings, and that I would be able to speak out and tell my story. But it is incredibly difficult,” she says. During the hearing, she attended a support group for parents of children with unexplained fractures and discovered that although parents are not allowed to discuss cases in the family courts many of the same names came up again and again.

Media request

Full Article and Credits:
Currently the Guardian UK newspaper is currently working on a cover story for the G2 section of the Guardian newspaper on the significant increase in the number of babies being removed from mothers deemed unfit. The article will take a look at what's behind this trend - an exploration of some of the complexities and — and will include plenty of voices of mothers who have lost babies, adopted adults, adoptive mothers, and social workers and others who have to make these very difficult decisions. They are particularly interested in finding mothers who have had a young baby removed from them. Kate is happy to change names and identifying details if required. They have to write the piece by mid Jan but hoping to tie up all interviews before Christmas.

Monday, 10 December 2007

A Year of Protests and Demos in Videos and Pictures - 2007

Our Year Full Of Protests Can Be Found Here:

Parents who have had children Stolen By Social Services and wrongly put up for adoption to meet government targets. Demonstrations
Across The United Kingdom
A Year of Protests and Demos in Videos and Pictures – 2007
A Special THANK YOU to Everyone that has supported ‘STOP INJUSTICE NOW’, Through out the Year. Also A Very BIG Thank You To All The People The Work Hard Behind The Scenes, The People You Don’t Always See. People Who Gave Us Somewhere To Stay At The Locations And Also The Information To Make These Protests Work An Extra Special Thanks To Chrissy & John for Their Selfless Hard Work! And Anyone I Have Forgotten To Mention! Enjoy Watching These Videos! More Protests and Demonstrations planned for 2008

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Whom did David Southall think he was helping?

Full Story:
The spectre of poor Victoria Climbié has been invoked. Following the GMC's decision on Tuesday to strike off Professor David Southall, 38 members of an organisation called Professionals Against Child Abuse, many of them paediatricians, wrote an open letter in which they said that doctors would be unwilling to undertake child protection work for fear of reprisals. The result would be more tragic deaths of children. The same concerns were raised in 2005 when Professor Sir Roy Meadow was struck off by the GMC for serious professional misconduct - a decision overturned on appeal - in giving misleading evidence in the case of Sally Clark, who was found guilty of murdering two of her sons on the strength (or rather weakness) of Meadow's use of statistics. Yesterday morning, in a long interview on Today, Prof Southall joined the counter-attack. He was not so much defending himself, he made out in conversation with John Humphrys, as concerned for potential victims as a result of what he called a "campaign" by those who deny the existence of child abuse. He used the same arguments, couched in the same terminology, when I spoke to him three years ago, shortly after he was barred from child protection work for suggesting that Stephen Clark (husband of Sally) had murdered his sons - after watching him on a television programme. He was then, and appears still to be now, a man with a conscience untroubled by those who have suffered as a result of his actions. At the very least, errors have occurred in cases in which he has been involved, both as a researcher and as an expert witness, but he has never apologised. Families have been broken up, parents imprisoned, children irrevocably damaged by a doctor who has taken the Hippocratic oath to "First, do no harm". Yet he defends this collateral damage, talking of there being "suffering whenever a paediatrician raises a concern". Of course, paediatricians must put the child first. But is that what they are doing by rising to the defence of a second member of their profession who has been accused of having fallen short of professional standards? The focus of the reaction against the barring of Prof Southall from practising has been the case of Mrs M, whose 10-year-old son hanged himself. Prof Southall was accused of acting "inappropriately" by suggesting in an interview, witnessed by a social worker, that the mother might have been responsible. It's the muddiest part of the case against him because it boils down - in the absence of videotaped evidence - to one person's word against two others'. In that instance, it is relatively easy to feel some sympathy for a doctor just doing his job, however brusquely, and to feel - as Prof Southall makes out - that, had fellow paediatricians been sitting in judgment on him at the GMC, not lay members of a panel, they would have understood his dilemma. But the charge of inappropriate interviewing is only one of several for which he was struck off. More importantly - and tellingly - he was found guilty of having hidden notes relating to seven different cases. It is rather more difficult to see how, in those instances, he was just doing his job. A doctor who removes or destroys records cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be thought to be acting in the best interests of a child. Nor can anyone who opposes such a practice be accused of denying the existence of abuse. Of course abuse happens, and sometimes parents are responsible. I have spoken to some of those who are said to be orchestrating attacks on Prof Southall. None of them denies that children are sometimes harmed by those closest to them. It is shocking that, despite our costly child protection mechanisms, the number of children who die at the hands of their parents remains unchanged at one a week.

Doctor's child protection warning

Full Story:
A former colleague of paediatrician Dr David Southall says in future doctors may avoid working in child protection because they fear losing their careers. The General Medical Council (GMC) struck off Dr Southall last week for serious professional misconduct. It heard he had accused a Shropshire woman of drugging and killing her 10-year-old son who had hanged himself. Dr Martin Samuels, who works at North Staffordshire University Hospital, said child protection was not understood. He added: "We believe (the GMC) are not understanding the dilemma which us paediatricians and other doctors deal with in child protection. 'Pushing doctors away' "When the possibility of abuse or the diagnosis of abuse is discussed with parents this is inevitably going to cause upset and stress in the family." He added: "The problem is that doctors have to be able to raise the issue of abuse, discuss it and will give opinions that abuse is occurring in certain circumstances when in some cases, subsequently, a court decides otherwise. "Now if on every occasion that a doctor's view and opinion is then considered to be wrong, and that a doctor is then brought to task such as that they can lose their livelihood, this will have the effect of pushing doctors away from dealing with child abuse and wanting to discuss the possibility of abuse." The GMC had heard Dr Southall accused Mandy Morris - whose 10-year-old son Lee hanged himself in 1996 - of murdering him. Dr Southall had made the allegation in an interview with Mrs Morris about the safety of her surviving son. Public inquiry call The GMC also ruled that Dr Southall had acted inappropriately in some cases by keeping original medical documents on children in his care separate from their medical records. Lawyers acting for the Attorney General are now examining thousands of these files amid concerns that they were not revealed during criminal proceedings. Dr Southall has defended himself, saying he always put the interests of children first during his career. In 2004, he was suspended from child protection work over his role in the case of Sally Clark, wrongly jailed over the death of her two sons.


Full Story:
A Social worker has been disciplined over her handling of a case involving the baby of junkie parents. Neath Port Talbot Council employee Tracey Lee Wood had denied charges of misconduct put to her at a Care Council for Wales conduct hearing. However, following a three-day hearing, she was found guilty of misconduct in two of the three charges against her and given a two-year admonishment. The charges concerned failures to follow policy in relation to child protection matters. The main case against Ms Wood was that she hadn't informed superiors quickly enough of her concerns, after visiting the one-year-old baby's mum. The committee heard how the baby's mother told Ms Wood she planned to leave the child with a 16-year-old neighbour while she went to work in a massage parlour. The mum said she was going to drink a bottle of vodka before work, and then retrieved some cannabis from the side of a sofa where the baby had been sitting. Janet Kirk, then deputy manager of the child assessment team, said of the incident: "I would have expected any social worker going into this situation to seek advice." Ms Wood tearfully told the committee she had felt her concerns went unheard. She said that after returning from the visit, she had tried to discuss the issue with Mrs Kirk, but described her as dismissive. Mrs Kirk, however, denied this conversation ever took place. Ms Wood also pointed out there had been serious concerns about the baby, referred to as Child A, prior to her involvement. She said CID officers had raided the parent's home on October 16, 2005 and spotted the tot about to pick up heroin. Because of this, said Ms Wood, the police had raised the alarm and another social worker visited on October 18. The child was staying with its grandmother at the time and the social worker considered it to be safe, the committee heard. However, Ms Wood pointed out the gran in question had mental health problems and was only looking after the baby while its mum was absent, thought to be appearing on TV's Jeremy Kyle Show. She said: "I was appalled no previous action had been taken on October 18." The committee heard it was the very next day - on October 19, 2005 - that Ms Wood was handed the case. She had been off with stress for four months and only recently returned to work. Ms Wood also alleged she had been bullied by her then manager, Julie Thomas, before going on leave, and said: "The bullying had got to such an extent that I felt suicidal."

The doctor who destroyed families: Southall struck off for accusing parents of killing their children

Full Story:
Paediatrician David Southall was yesterday struck off the medical register after twice accusing parents of murdering their children. He claimed one mother drugged and hanged her ten-year-old son with a belt, and he infamously interfered in the case of solicitor Sally Clark, accusing her husband of killing their two sons on the strength of a television documentary. Yesterday his high-flying career was in ruins after he was barred from medical practice with immediate effect, and castigated for his complete failure to apologise and his "deep-seated attitudinal problems". "Your misconduct is so serious that it is fundamentally incompatible with your continuing to be a registered medical practitioner," said Dr Jacqueline Mitton, chairman of the General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel. He blushed slightly and took a long gulp of water as he learned his fate. Afterwards he remained defiant and unapologetic, saying he was considering an appeal. "The decisions I took were in the best interests of the children involved," he said. Southall, 59, has gained international renown for groundbreaking research during his career, which took in the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke, the Royal Brompton in London and hospitals in Wales, the Home Counties, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley. He had already been suspended from child protection work in 2004 over his "high-handed intervention" in the Sally Clark case. He was called before the GMC again over a further series of allegations, which were found proven last month. Five mothers whom he wrongly accused of deliberately hurting, and in one case killing, their children, gave evidence to the hearin Their accounts gave a chilling insight into the consequences of so-called "sleep study" tests that he conducted on 4,500 of his young patients during the eighties and nineties. Police forces in the Midlands, Wales and London are investigating if children were inadvertently harmed or may have died during his experiments, where patients were allegedly deprived of oxygen and given small amounts of carbon dioxide, ostensibly to find the cause of cot death. Here, SUE REID reports on those five tragic cases... BEN MCLEAN Ben was three when his smiling picture appeared in a fundraising brochure for Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he was being treated for an illness affecting his breathing. He was a bright child and was expected to recover and lead a normal life. Today he is 21, goes to a special school and struggles to say a few simple words. He walks with the rolling gait of a drunk, testimony to the brain damage his parents fear is irreversible. Ben spent a year of his childhood in care, taken from his family at the age of five because paediatrician David Southall accused his mother and father of deliberately trying to hurt him. The doctor alleged they suffered from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP), a theory unproven in science in which parents are said to harm their offspring to gain attention for themselves. Today Dee McLean and her husband David say Ben underwent controversial breathing tests overseen by Dr Southall, when he was deprived of oxygen, and given small doses of carbon dioxide, which left him brain-damaged. As a result of these claims, South Wales Police are investigating his treatment by Professor Southall's medical team at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Dee, a former nurse, says: "He was a changed child after the tests in 1981. He couldn't concentrate. He couldn't walk properly." It took a year-long battle in the High Court before they won Ben back from care. What other tests were conducted on him during that time the McLeans do not know. But he was never the same child again. LAWRENCE ALEXANDER Lawrence is now 21. He spends most of his days in a darkened room listening to Radio 4. He cannot eat normal food and is 80 per cent physically disabled. At the age of 14 he was struck by muscle weakness which led to his body sustaining severe cell damage usually seen only in cancer patients after chemotherapy. Yet he has found the strength to search through his medical records and discover he underwent tests conducted by David Southall. Lawrence first became ill seven weeks after being born. He would often gasp for air and turn blue: signs of sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. At first doctors thought he was epileptic. At five months he was referred to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. His mother, Janet, recalls: "We were told Dr Southall, a cot-death expert who worked not far away at the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea, could help Lawrence. He was transferred there for one month and Dr Southall began to insist on exhaustive tests. "We quickly became suspicious that Dr Southall was using our son as a guinea-pig and we told him that we were going to take him home." It was then that the paediatrician invited Janet and husband, Robin, to a meeting to discuss Lawrence's progress. "We found social workers from Kensington and Chelsea Council and their solicitors, sent by Dr Southall,' says Janet. "One social worker told me, 'You need help as parents. There is nothing wrong with your child'. It suddenly clicked that we were in a dangerous situation. "They were saying we made up Lawrence's illness - that we were deliberately harming him." Janet was told she must sign papers to give social workers legal rights over Lawrence's care. "I was afraid if I did not allow my son to become a ward of court I would lose him forever." Crucially, she would no longer be allowed to see him at night. Janet, a former nurse, was forced to stop breast-feeding. So was it then, as the Alexander family have told the GMC, that Lawrence underwent tests that ruined his health? Lawrence says: "I believe that my mother and father were labelled as child abusers by Dr Southall because they tried to stop his experiments on me. "We now know about the so-called 'sleep studies' carried out by Dr Southall. "What impact that had on my health we will never know."