Monday, 23 March 2009

Couple's agony in tot ruling

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(The Story of Sarah, Ian Walton and their Daughter Crystal) (Our Story)
I Ian Walton Take Responsibility For Naming Our Selves In This Article And Not The Sunday Mirror
The Following Article Was Anonymised By The Sunday Mirror, The Real Names In The Story Are As Follows:
Stephen = Ian; Tanya = Sarah; Emily = Crystal
A couple whose daughter was taken away by social workers at just four days old have lost their last-ditch attempt to be reunited with her.
The Sunday Mirror revealed last month how Baby A, now aged four, was removed because of an unproven claim that her dad harmed his son from a previous marriage.

Couple's distress at baby ruling

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The parents of a seriously ill baby have said they are "deeply distressed" by a court ruling allowing him to die.
They said they planned to "enjoy what little time" they had left with their "beautiful and beloved boy".
He has a rare metabolic disorder and has suffered brain damage and major respiratory failure.
The parents failed to overturn an earlier ruling and it is understood doctors will stop treating the nine-month-old within 24 hours.
"Belief in his humanity" was the reason they had fought the medical advice that he should be allowed to die, they said.
'Life is worthwhile'
Two appeal judges have upheld a High Court ruling which gives doctors at an unnamed NHS trust powers to turn off the ventilator keeping "baby OT" alive.
There is no further avenue of appeal for the parents.
The couple had sought to appeal against a judge's ruling on Thursday that it was in the boy's best interests to withdraw his "life sustaining treatment".
In a statement, they said they knew of only one other child with their son's condition and everyone was in "unknown territory".

The Governor's eyebrow should trump the law

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Hordes of lawyers are infesting Britain. Wouldn't it be better for good judgment to prevail over the loophole seekers?
This is a story about a mystery widely discussed in recent months: the Governor's eyebrow. Let's approach the facial hair by way of a riddle. What do the Baby P affair, the assisted suicide debate (rekindled yesterday by Patricia Hewitt), Lord Turner of Ecchinswell's report this week on the future of financial services regulation and a new scrap between The Guardian and Barclays about the avoidance of taxes, have in common?
In every dispute the Governor's eyebrow stands twitching at the centre of arguments about methods of adjudication. Oliver Letwin, the Tories' policy chief, set this out in a speech about Baby P this year: at issue (he said) was a choice between rule-based and judgment-based regulation.
The rule-based approach aims to capture what a regulation means in careful, comprehensive, exhaustively assembled words: an authoritative text. At its best this offers certainty to citizens anxious to know if they are complying with the rules. At its worst it leads to the letter trumping the spirit of regulation: to box-ticking and the recruitment of hordes of lawyers to help people to look for ways round the spirit of the rules while obeying their letter.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Jozef Fritzl; no plans for investigation into police and social service failings

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Josef Fritzl used to boast that he was lord over life and death. Today an Austrian court jailed him for life, ensuring that he would almost certainly end his days behind the high walls of a psychiatric unit for the most dangerous of disturbed criminals.
There will be no appeal. “I accept the sentence,” said Fritzl, his shoulders hunched.
But despite the horror of his crimes there are no plans for an investigation into the failings of police and social services, or for new laws such as a sex offenders list.
He was found guilty of throwing his daughter, Elisabeth, into a homemade dungeon when she was 18 and making her a sex slave for almost a quarter of a century. The prosecutor calculated that he had raped her at least 3,000 times.
Fritzl, 73, fathered seven children in the cellar. He murdered one of them, a baby boy who, struggling for breath, was allowed to die while the building engineer went upstairs to watch television. That murder ensured a life sentence.
“I regret from the bottom of my heart what I have done to my family,” Fritzl told the jury in a thin, croaking voice. “Unfortunately I cannot make amends for it. I can only attempt to look for possibilities to try to limit the damage that has been done.”

Laming report calls for better training for social workers following Baby P and Victoria Climbie

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In the past decade, Haringey has lost two children in horrific cases of child abuse. ELIZABETH PEARS looks at Lord Laming’s latest report to find out what went wrong In 2001, Lord Laming chaired an inquiry following the death of Victoria Climbie.
Eight-year-old Victoria died after suffering serious abuse while living with her aunt and her boyfriend in a one-bedroom flat in Tottenham in 1999.
She died from malnutrition and at the time of her death, in February 25, 2000, the schoolgirl had endured more than 128 injuries that included burn marks and scars caused by a scabies infection.
The horrific details left the nation in shock and was regarded as one of the worst instances of child abuse in British history.
Following the inquiry led by Lord Laming, it prompted radical reform of child protection laws.
But seven years later, in the same social services department, in a council house just streets away, lightning was set to strike a second time.
On November 23, 2007, a mother from Tottenham, her live-in boyfriend and a lodger, Jason Owen, appeared in court denying the murder of the 17-month-old we know as Baby P.
He had been placed on Haringey Council’s at-risk register and had regular contact with social workers, health visitors and his GP.

Social worker asked to return at 82

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A RETIRED social worker was sent a letter asking her to return to the profession – even though she is 82.
Barbara MacArthur quit her job in 1982 and has spent the past 27 years caring for her 54-year-old autistic son Howard.
But she was stunned to receive a letter offering her up to £50 an hour to return to social work.
Divorced Mrs MacArthur, of Cathays, Cardiff, said: “I knew they were desperate for social workers, but I didn’t think they were this desperate!”
The letter, from Hertfordshire-based Evergood Associates, asks for Mrs MacArthur’s “current availability and future career plan”.
It adds: “We look forward to receiving your completed form with CV if applicable at your earliest convenience.”
The former policewoman previously worked for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau before becoming a social worker in 1960.
She said: “I’ve always wanted to help people and, even when I was a policewoman, I found myself feeling sorry for the people I was supposed to be arresting.

The mother who is helping her Down's son lose his virginity insists: He has just as much right to a love life as anyone else

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Sipping a bitter shandy, Otto Baxter is describing to me his ideal girlfriend. He'd like her to be pretty, petite, with a good sense of humour to match his own. Someone like former pop star and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Rachel Stevens would do, he says. 'I want to meet a nice girl, I want to make love, I want to get married one day,' he grins, 'but I don't want any children. I can't be doing with getting up in the night and changing nappies.'
So, not very different from other 21-year-old, hot-blooded males. Only Otto has Down's syndrome and his public quest to find a lover - to be just like his friends - has stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy over the taboo subject of disability and sex.
This week, his adoptive mother Lucy Baxter, 51, was accused of being 'odd', 'irresponsible', 'creepy', and 'strange' after she revealed she was actively helping her son seek a partner, setting up a Bebo page for him on the net and researching dating agencies so Otto can 'enjoy the same experiences as other men his age'.
Her assertion that she would support him if he ever wanted to seek the services of a prostitute prompted an even more vitriolic response that she would be 'pimping' out her son rather than protecting a vulnerable young man. Some readers found the very thought 'disgusting'.
Far from being hurt, Lucy Baxter welcomes the debate her words have sparked, bringing the whole issue of Down's syndrome and sexuality into the open.

What If...? - Suspected Abuse (Video Documentary)

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Teachers and managers role-play challenging situations, with the late Ted Wragg asking the difficult questions.This week, what actions are taken when the head suspects a pupil is being physical abused? When is the inter-agency child protection team of the police, health and social services involved? At what point are the parents told?The eight panellists respond to a case study involving six-year-old Jade who appears at school with bruising. The dilemmas arise out of determining whether Jade's bruises are the result of rough and tumble in the playground or more serious signs of abuse at home.

Need To Know - New Restraint Powers (Video Documentary)

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Mike Baker and Sheena McDonald discuss teachers' powers of restraint under the Education and Inspections Act 2006. They explain why the changes were needed, and how they make the powers more explicit for teachers. Mike also points out that while the law grants teachers the right to use "reasonable force" as a last resort, it does specify that the context of each particular situation must be taken into account. Examples of restraints teachers could use are demonstrated in the studio by conflict management specialist Tim Cooke.

School Matters - CRB - Checks and Balances (Video Documentary)

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An inside look at the Criminal Records Bureau and a chance to asses whether CRB checks are essential for our children's safety or an invasion of civil liberties.The number of adults who must now undergo CRB checks on their suitability to work with children in schools and other institutions runs into several millions. Given the scale of this operation, it is inevitable that mistakes will occasionally be made. In this programme we investigate the workings of the CRB and hear the story of one person who was wrongly rejected twice in a case of mistaken identity.

Missing Women (Video Documentary)

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A powerful documentary focused on the 'missing women' of Asia - the estimated 100 million females who have not been given a chance to live due to overwhelming social pressures.We travel to India where, in the south, community pressure has forced many women to commit infanticide by killing their own daughters. In the north of the country, a great weight of tradition has led to a selective abortions; something that is ravaging the country's female population.In Karachi, Pakistan, the number of newborn girls abandoned at birth has increased tenfold in the wake of growing poverty. Baby girls are being left for dead in the city's ditches, parks and dumps. Finally, we visit China, where 20 years of the 'single child' policy has driven families to do away with their daughters. The Chinese government is now trying to reverse this trend..

Austrian Fritzl sentenced to life

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Austrian Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter in a cellar and fathered her seven children, has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Fritzl, 73, was found guilty of all charges against him, including rape, incest, murder and enslavement.
He showed no obvious emotion at the verdict, telling the court that he accepted it and would not appeal.
The court ordered that Fritzl should serve his life sentence in a secure psychiatric facility.
The judge said he could speak to his lawyer but he shook his head. Then he was led out of court with an impassive face.
See the Fritzl family tree
Fritzl's lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, said outside the court after the verdict: "I would say that the verdict was a logical consequence of a confession.
"Of course if you have 3,000 cases of rape and 24 years of being kept in a cellar, it is evident that there can only be a punishment or verdict like this one."
The life sentence was handed down for the murder by neglect of one of the children, who died soon after birth.
The jury unanimously accepted prosecutors' arguments that the child could have survived if it had received medical care denied by Fritzl.

'TIP' by Zoompad (The Book)

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An intelligent, moral and often hilarious funny story of abuse survival, Zoompad's outstanding first novel describes growing up in the Sixties and Seventies Britain, warts and all. A very moving book, once you start reading it, you won’t put it down. Some of the book makes you laugh, but other parts make you angry at the system. Overall, a very well written book and a very brave subject to cover.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Josef Fritzl admits all charges

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Josef Fritzl, the Austrian accused of imprisoning his daughter and fathering seven children with her, has changed his pleas to guilty on all charges.
Fritzl, 73, said video testimony from his daughter, played in court on Tuesday, had made him change his mind.
He locked up his daughter for 24 years. The charges include rape, incest, murder by neglect and enslavement.
A verdict and sentencing are due on Thursday. A court doctor has advised he be sent to a psychiatric facility.
At the start of his trial on Monday, Fritzl had denied the charges of enslavement and murdering one of the children by neglect soon after its birth.
His surprise turnabout also altered his plea from ''partial'' to guilty on the charge of rape.
Fritzl could face life imprisonment for murder, 20 years for enslavement and up to 15 years on other charges.
Under Austrian law his guilty pleas could be a mitigating factor, but only at the discretion of the judges and jury.
Fritzl's lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, said watching his daughter's testimony had profoundly affected his client, ''destroying'' his emotions.
But court spokesman Franz Cutka was unable to confirm or deny media reports that Fritzl's daughter was inside the courtroom on Tuesday.

Man's 1979 murder verdict quashed

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A man who spent 27 years in jail for a murder he did not commit said he was ''ecstatic'' as he walked free from the Court of Appeal.
Sean Hodgson, now 57, saw his ''unsafe'' conviction for killing Teresa De Simone, 22, in her car in Southampton 30 years ago quashed by senior judges.
Tests prove DNA from the scene was not his and police have reopened the case.
Speaking outside court Mr Hodgson said it was ''great to be free'' while his brother said his release was a ''dream''.
''On behalf of my brother, I would like to thank the solicitor a million, million times,'' Peter Hodgson said.
''I've had a dream for 27 years. I know it's a hell of a long time, but it's finally come true.''
Mr Hodgson is one of the longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice in the UK.
His solicitor Julian Young said: ''I hope that the inquiry, that will undoubtedly take place, will find out how this happened and ensure it does not happen again.''

Forced Aoption by Ian Josephs (2nd Edition)

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Forced Adoption is a book on sale at cost price that exposes the secret family courts, the gagging of parents and worse still the forced adoption of their children for such trivial reasons as 'risk of emotional abuse'. All conclusions are sourced from Parliamentary Questions, the BBC, ITV and reputable newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. I did not believe that secret courts and forced adoptions in a money-driven industry could exist until I verified actual cases. Free legal advice and help is offered to all parents who are victims of this iniquitous system.

'PIN DOWN' by Teresa Cooper

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This cruel and vicious treatment, accompanied by punishments such as 163 days spent in solitary confinement, meant that it was not long before Teresa began to harm herself and even attempt to take her life. After three years of hell, Teresa thought her nightmare was over but another was about to begin. Teresa Cooper is a survivor. Fighting against a corrupt social care system, she has taken her case of abuse and drugging to parliament, and is fighting to prevent many more children from suffering at the hands of unethical doctors and abusive foster parents.

'TRUST NO ONE' by Teresa Cooper

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Thrust into care at six months of age because of an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother, Teresa Cooper's life began in a less than perfect way. Teresa spent an unsettled childhood in a variety of children's homes before being sent to Kendall House in Kent, which would become her prison and worst nightmare. At Kendall House, Teresa became a victim of a terrible regime, being injected with dangerously high doses of drugs and sexually abused.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

New chief for children's service

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The new councillor in charge of social services in Swansea says his priority will be to lead the department out of special measures as soon as possible.
Nick Tregoning will replace Wendy Fitzgerald who has resigned.
This week the Welsh Assembly Government is expected to intervene in the running of the council's children's services department.
It follows two critical reports into its child protection procedures and concerns improvements have been slow.
Liberal democrat councillor Mr Tregoning said: ''We are, for the moment, the only social services department in Wales to be placed in special measures in regard to childrens' services, despite the clear improvement shown over the last 18 months.

Child abuse victim still waiting for £59,500 compensation

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A CHILDREN’S home abuse victim has told how her on-going battle for compensation is prolonging her suffering.
The 44-year-old was only 14 when she was raped by Coventry children’s home boss, Kevin Donaldson, who is serving a 15-year jail term for sex offences.
As the Telegraph revealed last week, Coventry City Council lost its appeal against its liability for Donaldson’s actions at London’s Civil Appeal Court.
At the hearing, Lord Justice Sullivan ruled the council would have to pay the victim damages but the authority could still appeal against the final amount. A hearing regarding the final figure is due to take place in July - which will be the SEVENTH time the woman’s case has been to court.

Law Society to host debate on opening up family courts

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Law Society meeting to be held on 26 March 2009
The Law Society will host an event which aims to
"expose the potential impact on children's rights and examine the effect of opening often sensitive court proceedings to press scrutiny and trading families' fundamental right to privacy for the assumption that more openness will bring about an improvement in standards."
Speaking at the debate will be Mr Justice Hedley, who will focus on the consequences for trial processes, family practitioners and clients generally, Alison Russell QC, and Professor Jane Fortin.

Fritzl hears daughter's testimony

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Josef Fritzl is being questioned over taped testimony from his daughter at his trial in Austria for crimes against the children he kept in a cellar.
The court began viewing 11 hours of video on the opening day of the trial, with the rest of the material to be shown in segments during the week.
Austria is holding one of its most harrowing trials behind closed doors.
Mr Fritzl, 73, pleads guilty to incest and "partially" guilty to rape but not guilty to murder or enslavement.
Addressing media at the end of the first day of proceedings in the town of St Poelten, the court spokesman said the trial would resume at 0900 on Tuesday (0800 GMT).
Mr Fritzl is alleged in 1984 to have lured his daughter into a cellar with windowless soundproofed chambers beneath their house, to have imprisoned her there and raped her repeatedly over a number of years.
The daughter and three of her seven children fathered by Fritzl were kept captive in the cellar until the case came to light in April last year when one of the children became seriously ill and was taken to hospital.
He is accused of murdering one of the newborn twin boys his daughter gave birth to in 1996, having failed to arrange medical care for the ailing infant.
Some legal experts have said it may be hard to prove the murder charge but the charge of enslavement carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, the BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports from St Poelten.
Some of the other charges against him carry a sentence of up to 15 years.

Fritzl pleads guilty to rape

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Watch The Broadcast:
Josef Fritzl, who held his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and fathered seven children by her, has gone on trial in Austria.
The 73-year-old, who kept his face shielded with a blue legal folder, denied murder but pleaded guilty to rape, incest, coercion and false imprisonment.
Fritzl also said he was innocent of a charge of enslaving Elisabeth, now 42, for most of her life. She was allegedly kept with the children in a windowless 60 sq metre (650 sq ft) dungeon beneath the family home in Amstetten.
Three of her children grew up underground while the others were taken upstairs by Fritzl. It is alleged one child, a twin who died in infancy in 1996, might have survived if taken to a doctor.
Fritzl has allegedly told police he burned the newborn boy's body in a furnace after he suffered breathing problems and died. Legal experts have said the murder charge will be complicated by the absence of forensic evidence.
In court, Fritzl remained silent and motionless, ignoring questions from television crews, before the judge and jury of six men and six women entered and cameras were sent out, when he put the folder down.
Elisabeth has given hours of disturbing evidence which will just be shown to the jury via video.

Review of Baby P's death leaked

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A leaked report into the death of Baby P suggests there were further missed opportunities to save him from abuse.
The Serious Case Review, seen by the Mail on Sunday, sheds new light on the investigation into his injuries.
Baby P was 17 months old when he died with more than 50 injuries, despite being on the child protection register.
The government has opted not to publish the review in full, saying it could deter other investigations of abuse.
In the months leading up to Baby P's death in August 2007 he was seen about 60 times by child welfare officials, who missed the signs of abuse.
According to the leaked report:
a legal meeting days before he died was delayed by six weeks due to "workload pressures", although it ultimately decided against taking the child out of his home
six months before Baby P's death it was agreed an interim care order could be issued to remove him but no action was taken

Home to something evil

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What really happened at Haut de la Garenne, the children's home at the centre of the Jersey care scandal last year? Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy report on a building that still houses some very dark secrets
How Jersey's tourism bosses must have lamented the marketing slogan they chose last year: "Small enough to really get to know, yet still big enough to surprise."
It was supposed to mark a campaign to rejuvenate the holiday business.
Instead, it served to highlight a child abuse scandal that erupted on the island.
The story had first trickled out in November 2007, gaining almost no press attention. Following a covert police inquiry into allegations of mistreatment in the island's care homes, police and the NSPCC in London had appealed to former residents to come forward. By January 2008, hundreds were said to have made contact, reporting physical and sexual abuse, mostly at Haut de la Garenne, a grim, Victorian industrial school that had, until the mid-80s, served as Jersey's main children's home. Soon, Jersey was in the grip of one of the largest police child abuse inquiries seen anywhere in Britain.
How would the tiny island and its 88,000 residents hold up? They pride themselves on their traditionalism (the pound note survives here) and an independent spirit that locals refer to as the Jersey Way. The mantra, reflecting a closed community that knows how to look after itself, is credited with transforming the place from a bourgeois bucket-and-spade resort in the 50s into the oyster-shucking tax haven it is today. So potent is the lure of the island's low-tax, non-intrusive regime that the level of wealth required of prospective settlers has risen to stratospheric levels: only those who can pay a residency fee of about £1m and show assets in excess of £20m need apply. The lucky few include racing driver Nigel Mansell, golfer Ian Woosnam, broadcaster Alan Whicker and writer Jack Higgins, as well as hundreds of reclusive tycoons, who have made the island the third richest compact community in the world, after Bermuda and Luxembourg.

Mayor to stand down after inquiry finds serious failures

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One of England's most controversial local politicians yesterday said he would step down after a government inquiry criticised serious child protection failures in the council he presided over.
Doncaster mayor Martin Winter said he would not be seeking re-election in June after ministers imposed a group of experts to oversee the council's children's services department.
A government report, published yesterday, called the South Yorkshire borough's children's services fragile and inadequate, citing ineffectual political management as one of the main reasons for its problems.
Ministers invoked powers under the 1996 Education Act to draft in an experienced management team. The same powers were used in December by children's secretary Ed Balls to remove Sharon Shoesmith as director of Haringey children's services in north London after the Baby P scandal.
Doncaster was one of four authorities in the country, including Haringey, to be judged to have inadequate children's services last year by Ofsted. One in four child protection cases - 770 in all - were not allocated to a social worker, inspectors found. Three serious case reviews into the deaths of children in Doncaster's care have been published in the last three years, and the council confirmed another four are ongoing.

Lord Laming report; ‘We must never leave children in danger just to save a £4,000 fee’

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A £4,000 court fee for taking a child into care that was introduced last May could be scrapped under reforms to avoid a repeat of the Baby P tragedy.
A government-commissioned report into child protection said that the fees should be abolished in April 2010 unless there was “incontrovertible evidence” that they were not not deterring local authorities from moving children out of danger.
The Times reported last year that the fees were to rise from £150 to £4,000, despite warnings from lawyers and campaigners that the change might encourage money-conscious local authorities to give violent or neglectful parents a second chance.

Vulnerable children deserve better than this

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Studying the case of Baby P, I found it hard to understand. Having been a social worker since 1971, I could not see how you could have observed the baby with his head shaven, and not have seen the significance of such an action, not have known that before the torturer proceeds, he needs to dehumanise. Who could have visited the family home and been so unobservant that they perceived no evidence of a man or men being present, or been unaware that dangerous individuals are prone to deception?
Now, we have been given the official explanation of what happened, and what must change. In yesterday's report, Lord Laming calls for a step change in leadership and practice, as well as other measures, including disciplinary action for directors of children's services if they fail to ensure that children are protected from abuse.
But I was puzzled. Lord Laming insists that the current framework, known as "Every Child Matters", is the right one for safeguarding children. Yet he glosses over the fact that the current strategy was the result of his own inquiry into the death of Victoria ClimbiƩ. It is hardly surprising that he is unwilling to see its flaws.
When I began working as a social worker, the situation was unrecognisable from today. It wasn't a perfect world, but there was a belief that those who needed help would get it. Many came to the office with their family problems, and we would help as best we could. There were also the more serious cases – the "battered babies" who had been abused by their parents, and whose broken bones were identified by the staff in Casualty.

Children's directors 'have job from hell'

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Role of single head for education and children's social services could lead to schools being overlooked, say school and college leaders
Directors of children's services like Sharon Shoesmith have "the job from hell" because their remit is now so big they cannot help neglect some children's needs, headteachers warned today.
In an attack on the whole government policy of combining education and children's social services, the Association of School and College Leaders said schools were being overlooked as children's services focus on protecting young people who risk abuse at home.
Local authorities have merged their education and children's social services teams to create children's services departments so vast their directors "risk taking their eyes off the educational ball," the ASCL argues.

Birth mother blames adoptive mother for boy's murder

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Adoptive mother Gloria Grayson is facing first-degree murder charges for the death of 5-year-old Kevin Michael King.
The birth mother, Kawanna Adkins, is now demanding answers and levelling serious allegations against Grayson. Adkins said Wednesday that she was worried about the care the boy was getting.
"He was a sweet kid, (and) I don't know why she killed him," Adkins said. "It really makes me mad."
Adkins said the child, who she named Daniel, was put into protective custody in 2004 when he was 9 months old. Adkins said she and the child's father hadn't been getting along.
Two years later, the boy was placed into Grayson's foster home, and Grayson adopted him later that year.
On Sunday, police say the child was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of Grayson's home on the 5900 block of Spokane Avenue. Grayson called 911, and the boy was taken to the hospital, where he died.

'Step change' in social work needed

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Frontline social workers are overstretched and hampered by "form filling", a review into child protection services in the wake of Baby P's death has said.
The review called for a "step change" in protecting children from harm and offered 58 recommendations, all of which were accepted by Children's Secretary Ed Balls who ordered the review.
Lord Laming was asked to carry out the audit at the end of the trial of those responsible for 17-month-old Baby P's death in August 2007.
He also delivered a similar full-scale review into failings in the Victoria Climbie case in 2003.
In that he severely criticised the local authority involved - Haringey Council in north London. It was the same council who had Baby P on the protection registered when he died in August 2007.

We did help Carlisle toddler found living in drugs den, say Social Services

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Social Services chiefs today insisted that they did act on a tip-off about a Carlisle toddler who was found by police living in a squalid drugs den.

The father of the child was yesterday given a suspended three-month jail sentence.

Allan O’Shea was sentenced by a judge at Carlisle Crown Court after spending the weekend in Durham Prison.

The court had earlier been told how police who visited the home where he lived with the girl’s mother and the child had found it was stinking of stale urine and littered with used hypodermic needles.

Police took the girl into protective custody on April 6, 2008 and it emerged in court last week that Social Services had been given an anonymous tip-off about the child’s plight in January of that year.

It was initially suggested that Social Services had not intervened quickly enough.

Judge Paul Batty QC had adjourned the case last week saying he wanted to know what involvement Social Services had with the family.

Yesterday, the judge said he had received a letter from Cumbria County Council’s head of service at Social Services, Helen Smith.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Fritzl pleads guilty to rape (ITV News)

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Josef Fritzl, who held his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and fathered seven children by her, has gone on trial in Austria.
The 73-year-old, who kept his face shielded with a blue legal folder, denied murder but pleaded guilty to rape, incest, coercion and false imprisonment.
Fritzl also said he was innocent of a charge of enslaving Elisabeth, now 42, for most of her life. She was allegedly kept with the children in a windowless 60 sq metre (650 sq ft) dungeon beneath the family home in Amstetten.
Three of her children grew up underground while the others were taken upstairs by Fritzl. It is alleged one child, a twin who died in infancy in 1996, might have survived if taken to a doctor.
Fritzl has allegedly told police he burned the newborn boy's body in a furnace after he suffered breathing problems and died. Legal experts have said the murder charge will be complicated by the absence of forensic evidence.
In court, Fritzl remained silent and motionless, ignoring questions from television crews, before the judge and jury of six men and six women entered and cameras were sent out, when he put the folder down.
Elisabeth has given hours of disturbing evidence which will just be shown to the jury via video.
His lawyer Rudolf Mayer said: "He feels remorseful about the personality he has and what he did to the victims based on this personality." He said Fritzl loved his daughter "in his own way".
Elisabeth and her six children are now living in a secret location under new identities. She has told police she was kept on a leash in the early months of her imprisonment and that Fritzl told them they would be killed using gas if they tried to escape.
Fritzl's wife, Rosemarie, said she believed Elisabeth - who her husband told her had joined a cult - had abandoned the babies at the front door.
He was finally discovered when one of the children, 19-year-old Kerstin, fell ill and Fritzl agreed to bring her upstairs so she could go to hospital.
When doctors made a television appeal for her mother to come forward to provide information about the girl's medical history, Fritzl accompanied Elisabeth to the hospital.
The world's media has converged on the courthouse in St Poelten, west of Vienna, for the trial, which is scheduled to last just five days. The jury is expected to deliver its verdict on March 20.
The case emerged less than two years after Austrian teenager Natascha Kampusch escaped from a basement where she had been held by a kidnapper for eight years.

Watch The News Broadcast:

Friday, 13 March 2009

This Is A Photo Slide Show Of Our Daughter, Crystal Walton

Crystal Walton, Our Daughter Stolen By Enfield Social Services
This Is A Photo Slide Show Of Our Daughter!

Former Hertfordshire social services chief calls for better child protection across UK

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THE former director of social services in Hertfordshire said he was ''impatient'' to reform child protection services nationally after the death of Baby P.
Lord Laming of Tewin, who also led the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000, published a report yesterday listing 58 recommendations to help protect children at risk of abuse.
Speaking at a press conference, he said: "Keeping children safe and promoting their wellbeing is the responsibility of us all, but more needs to be done to inject energy and drive into child protection across all frontline services.
He said the Government should set ''explicit priorities'' for the protection of children, provide more support for social workers and better coordination between children's services.
''Being on the frontline is tough work and we have got to reduce the turnover of staff and the anxiety of staff,'' said Lord Laming, who was social services director in the county between 1975 and 1991.
''We must make sure that all of the staff are confident in the job that they do.
''Throughout the whole of the organisations involved there must be much stronger commitment to working together.
''Not just the Government, but we as a community we have not been doing enough to make sure social workers are properly trained and supported.''

Baby P Report: 'Workers' Training Is Poor'

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Lord Laming, who wrote the original report into the Climbie tragedy and has now completed his investigation into the death of Baby P, has criticised failings in information sharing between agencies.
He has also blasted the poor training and support given to ''overstretched'' frontline staff and the red tape ''hampering'' social workers.
Lord Laming said it is up to Children's Secretary Ed Balls to immediately address the ''inadequacy'' of training and supply of frontline social workers.
''We have to make sure social workers are properly supported, trained and looked after,'' he said.
''It is a job that not only involves intellectual demands but it is a job that is emotionally very stressful.''
Lord Laming also said there was concern that quality social work was being put in danger by an ''overemphasis on process and targets'', singling out computer systems which were ''hampering progress''.

Laming report; Reaction in quotes

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Reactions from local government, teaching unions, politicians and charity and children's services heads to Laming's child protection recommendations;
This report is a remarkable indictment of the state of child protection in this country. It is scathing about the unwieldy, overly bureaucratic nature of the regime currently in place. It reveals the problems we have with the information technology systems. We must fix the IT systems and expand the health visitor programme. We must publish serious case reviews. Refusing to publish serious case reviews after a child's death is like keeping the information from an aircraft's black box secret after an aviation disaster; it prevents us all learning the lessons we need to, and debating openly how we keep children safe. We cannot have a situation where we keep terrible errors secret.

Profiling: Lord Laming

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The name Lord Laming has long been associated with social services, and in particular child protection, issues in Britain.
Many would first link his name with inquiries into the implications of the notorious Victoria Climbie and Baby P cases.
His areas of interest range from child protection to foster care, home care for older people, and elements of the criminal justice system.
He had been set to head an inquiry into serial killer Harold Shipman but stepped down in July 2000, after victims' families successfully campaigned to have the hearing made public. Lord Laming said the extra work involved in a public hearing made it impossible for him to continue.
In that same year he was also involved in investigating management of the Prison Service.
But the former probation officer and social worker, from Newcastle, is perhaps best known for his role in chairing the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, in Haringey, north London.
The eight year old, from Ivory Coast, died in February 2000 at the hands of abusive guardians who tortured her for months.
After a 15-month inquiry Lord Laming reported fatal flaws within the system. He said more than a year on he still found the details of the case ''personally distressing''.

'Step change' in social work needed (Lord Laming Report)

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Frontline social workers are overstretched and hampered by "form filling", a review into child protection
services in the wake of Baby P's death has said.
The review called for a "step change" in protecting children from harm and offered 58 recommendations, all of which were accepted by Children's Secretary Ed Balls who ordered the review.
Lord Laming was asked to carry out the audit at the end of the trial of those responsible for 17-month-old Baby P's death in August 2007.
He also delivered a similar full-scale review into failings in the Victoria Climbie case in 2003.
In that he severely criticised the local authority involved - Haringey Council in north London. It was the same council who had Baby P on the protection registered when he died in August 2007.
But this time Lord Laming refused to criticise saying: "It must be very hard for them to do that job and then have society condemn them. It's not the fault of social workers."
He called for those intervening in cases of child abuse to be given "special training" to cope with the emotional burden.
However he added: "It has been put to me that it is inevitable that some adults, for whatever reason, will deliberately harm children. That may well be so.

Action urged on child protection (Lord Laming Report)

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Child protection must be given higher priority to protect vulnerable young people from abuse, a report has warned.
Lord Laming's review told those working in children's services most of the necessary reforms were in place and that they should "now just do it".
The peer also called for a step change in the way services are run following the deaths of Victoria Climbie and Baby P after months of abuse.
Children's Secretary Ed Balls said he accepted all the new recommendations.
No barrier or bureaucracy should get in the way of keeping children safe, he told MPs in the House of Commons.
Mr Balls, who promised a detailed response to all of Lord Laming's recommendations before the end of next month, appointed Barnardo's head Sir Roger Singleton as the first chief government adviser on the safety of children.
He also announced that ministers would be taking control of Doncaster children's services and appointing a new management team because of concerns over the deaths of seven children through abuse or neglect in the past five years.
In a separate move, the BBC understands the Welsh Assembly is also to intervene in the running of Swansea council's children's services department following two critical reports into its child protection
Victoria's great aunt and boyfriend were jailed for her murder procedures.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Vulnerable children are victims of legal funding cuts, experts say

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Barristers involved in the family justice system say changes to the legal aid budget are putting families and children at 'grave risk'
The legal system for protecting vulnerable and abused children is at ''breaking point'', experts say, because of repeated cuts in government funding of cases.
Barristers involved in the family justice system - most of whose work involves cases with allegations of domestic violence and abuse - say changes to the legal aid budget would put families and children at ''grave risk''.
A report published yesterday found that government proposals to cut fees by more than half would cause an exodus of experienced barristers and an increasing reluctance to take on the most complex cases.
''Government policies are driving skilled advocates out of the family justice system, leaving the most vulnerable in society exposed to miscarriages of family justice,'' said the Bar Council chairman, Desmond Browne QC.

115 children at risk face delay in going into care

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More than 100 children on the at risk register face long delays in being placed in care because of staff shortages across London.
The number of children waiting to have their futures finalised has soared to 115 after staff began to "panic" after the Baby P scandal in November when the figure stood at eight.
Experts today warned the delays were putting vulnerable children at physical and emotional risk.
The report into the case of Baby P, a 17-month-old boy who died in Haringey with more than 50 injuries, will be released on Thursday by Lord Laming.
Critics suggest social workers are more keen than ever to take vulnerable children away from their parents to avoid the sort of blame directed at council staff following Baby P's death.

Surrey social services 'as bad' as Baby P council

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Surrey social services 'as bad' as Baby P councilSocial workers have warned there could be another Baby P scandal in Surrey after the county council's children's services were rated the joint worst in Britain.
Ian MacDonald, a social worker who is lead convenor of the Childrens' Services branch of UNISON in Surrey, told the Herald that he and his colleagues are spending more than 60% of their time on paperwork and children are being put in danger as a result.
And union bosses added they were outraged that two social workers have been suspended and more than 50 are under review for not reaching performance targets - which they claim are counter-productive.
A letter from UNISON, the union representing Surrey's social workers, to Surrey County Council has warned that staff are extremely concerned that the horrific death of Baby P (pictured) after months of neglect could be repeated in the county.
Mr MacDonald said: ''There is always the chance of a Baby P happening in Surrey when social workers don't have the time to properly evaluate families and children."
"Social workers in Surrey are doing a very good job in very difficult circumstances but there will always be a danger if we can't concentrate on the direct work with the children. It's becoming an untenable position and it's dangerous. ''
The warning comes after the Audit Commission ranked Surrey's education and social care as inadequate in a report published on Thursday March 5.
The council was only joined at the bottom of the table by Doncaster, Milton Keynes and Haringey - which was embroiled by the Baby P scandal last year.
The Surrey union also passed a motion at January's AGM warning that social workers were handling unacceptably heavy case loads and being pressured to prioritise financial needs over the interests of children.

Enhancing child protection

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A system allowing child protection agencies across Scotland to share information quicker and better ensure safeguards are in place for those at risk is to be developed over the coming year.
The Pfund1.5 million Vulnerable Person's System (VPS) will help agencies react faster to changes in a child's circumstances in the future to keep them safe from neglect and abuse.
The VPS - which will also cover vulnerable adults - will initially allow police forces to share secure, accurate and up-to-date information electronically but will be open to other agencies in due course.
Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who will announce funding for the VPS at a multi-agency child protection hub in Edinburgh today, said:
''Child protection is everybody's business and we all have a duty to look out for young people and speak up if we have concerns about their welfare.
''The sickening death of little Brandon Muir has been a terrible reminder to us all why safeguards for Scotland's children are so important. His killer only moved into the family home weeks before, showing how quickly circumstances can change and why it's vital agencies get the most up-to-date information possible.
''Scotland already has the most robust child protection inspection system in the UK but it is imperative that we continue to ensure quick, effective support is put in place for vulnerable people.

Eddie Kidd son gets award for saving drowning girl

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A young hero with a famous dad who saved a toddler from drowning was among youngsters from Elmbridge recognised at a Surrey Police awards ceremony.
Jack Kidd, 15, of Rydens Avenue, Walton, son of stuntman Eddie Kidd, rescued a three year old girl from drowning in a swimming pool while on holiday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm-El-Sheik last May.
The Rydens School pupil, whose dad was a stunt double for James Bond actors Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, was among 10 winners of the first ever Elmbridge Young Persons of Honour Awards, which celebrates the achievements and bravery of young people on March 3.
Jack's mum, Sarah Pike, said: "The first we heard that Jack had won the award was when a police man turned up on our doorstep. I said to him you'd better tell me what you've done, if you tell me now I won't be cross, but I didn't need to worry as the police officer told me the good news.
''We are so proud of Jack. He did the right thing at the right time and you never know how your child will cope with stress.''

Sharon Shoesmith takes Haringey Council to employment tribunal

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The sacked head of children's services at the centre of the Baby P case is taking Haringey Council to employment tribunal.
Sharon Shoesmith is taking action against her former north London employer after she was dismissed without compensation from her Pfund100,000-a-year post in December.
If successful, she could receive as much as Pfund173,000 from the beleaguered council which was heavily criticised in the wake of the 17-month-old toddler's death.
Conservative Shadow Minister for Children Tim Loughton said he was not surprised that the 56-year-old had filed a complaint but was disappointed by her decision.
"This is the height of brass neck from Mrs Shoesmith whose arrogance was at the heart of her downfall," he said.
"She is still denial if she thinks that she should be rewarded for failure on the enormous scale at Haringey's children's social services department which resulted in Baby P's tragic death."
Councillor Robert Gorrie, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition at Haringey Council, said: "All employees have the right to due process.

Mother Jailed For 'Horrific' Cruelty To Son

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A young mother has been jailed for eight years following an "horrific" campaign of cruelty against her two-month-old son, who died hours after the final assault.
In a case with similarities to the Baby "P" case, former crack addict Claire Biggs, 27, dodged a string of checks by health worker as she attacked baby Rhys.
One of her children had already been deemed "at risk" and taken into care.
Against a backdrop of missed opportunities by health agencies and a breakdown in information sharing, she was able to repeatedly crush the helpless child's chest with impunity, fracturing 17 ribs.
As her convicted child sex abuser lover stood by and did nothing, she went on to break her son Rhys' right wrist twice as well as his shoulder.

High Hopes For Baby P Song To Reach Number 1

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Six mothers who campaigned for a song to be released in memory of Baby P say they hope the charity single will reach the number one spot.
Tell Me There's A Heaven is being re-released on Monday by Chris Rea with profits going to the NSPCC, of which Rea is a patron.
Rea's management had initially said it would not be right to re-release the single without overwhelming demand from the public.
The decision to release the song was made after the mums set up a group on Facebook called A Song For Baby P and asked their 17,000 members to write to the rock star's label.
Lisa Cosburn, 30, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, whose one-year-old son Oliver bears a striking resemblance to Baby P, is one of the mothers behind the project.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Councils performance - A Guide To Your Local Council, Local Authority and Social Services performance 2008

Full List Of Local Authorities Statistics:

A Guide To Your Local Council, Local Authority and Social Services performance 2008
Find you council in the alphabetical list below, and click on the name for a more detailed performance report; across 14 categories:
Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Barnsley, Bath and North East Somerset, Bedfordshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bracknell Forest, Bradford, Brent, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Bromley, Buckinghamshire, Bury, Calderdale, Cambridgeshire, Camden, Cheshire, Cornwall, Corporation of London, Coventry, Croydon, Cumbria, Darlington, Derby, Derbyshire, Devon, Doncaster, Dorset, Dudley, Durham, Ealing, East Riding of Yorkshire, East Sussex, Enfield, Essex, Gateshead, Gloucestershire, Greenwich, Hackney, Halton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hampshire, Haringey, Harrow, Hartlepool, Havering, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kent, Kingston-upon-Hull, Kingston-upon-Thames, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lambeth, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lewisham, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Medway, Merton, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Newham, Norfolk, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, North Tyneside, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oldham, Oxfordshire, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Redbridge, Redcar and Cleveland, Richmond-upon-Thames, Rochdale, Rotherham, Rutland, Salford, Sandwell, Sefton, Sheffield, Shropshire, Slough, Solihull, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, South Tyneside, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Southwark, St Helens, Staffordshire, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Suffolk, Sunderland, Surrey, Sutton, Swindon, Tameside, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Tower Hamlets, Trafford, Wakefield, Walsall, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Warrington, Warwickshire, West Berkshire, West Sussex, Westminster, Wigan, Wiltshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wirral, Wokingham, Wolverhampton, Worcestershire, York

Failed - Baby P report slams cover-up

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COUNCILS across the country will be slammed this week for COVERING UP serious failures by social workers which are putting children at risk.
A review commissioned after the horrific death of 17-month-old Baby P warns that DOZENS of social services departments have concealed serious failures.
And it says town hall bosses are putting children in peril by overloading social workers with red tape and targets.
The new report by Lord Laming follows his landmark inquiry into the death in 2000 of tortured eight-year-old Victoria ClimbiƩ (below left), after which he called for a total overhaul of child protection systems.
But in his latest review out on Thursday he will reveal that many of his reforms, supposed to have been introduced four years ago, have still not been properly implemented.
He will point out that information about children at risk of abuse is not being widely circulated — even since Baby P died in August, 2007.

Social Services Covering Up Major Failures

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Dozens of social services departments across the country have been covering up serious failures, an independent review into the death of Baby P will warn.
Councils will reportedly be criticised for putting children at risk by overloading social workers with red tape and targets when the report is published on Thursday.
The review by Lord Laming follows the death of 17-month-old Baby P who suffered more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger.
The toddler's death came despite 60 contacts with the Haringey council over eight months.
Lord Laming's report will say the Government's obsession with reports, ''performance indicators'' and middle managers has left social workers isolated and overworked.

Wronged parents need the oxygen of publicity

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We hear the tragic details of children left in danger. But we must not silence the families of those removed unjustly
''They're ripping lives apart and no one knows,'' says one kind colleague who has rashly offered to return some of the phone calls I get from people trying to get their children back from social services, or to stop them being taken away. She is staggered by the volume of misery, powerlessness and desperation that this issue provokes almost every day. And that it is almost invisible outside.
We all see the tragedies that go the other way. Baby P is imprinted on our minds. When the Audit Commission warned yesterday that thousands of children may be at risk of neglect and abuse in parts of the country because of shambolic child protection systems, we all have vivid images of the horror that can result if social workers do not intervene.
Yet we have almost no idea of what happens when the same shambolic systems intervene in the wrong lives.
When children die, they have no ''privacy'' left, so the media tell their story. But if children are taken from loving families and placed with strangers, their “privacy” makes their views the property of the State, to be translated only by the State.

Grey protesters hold rally to stop ‘forced adoption’ of grandchildren

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ELDERLY ACTIVISTS will stage a protest in Glasgow this week to demand that no child should be put into care if they can live with their grandparents.
Grandparents Apart UK believe that social workers are too willing to place children with strangers. The group's "war cry" is the recent case of an Edinburgh child sent to live with a gay couple - but they insist their grievance is not homophobic.
They have previously campaigned for automatic access rights for grandparents after custody battles and were involved in writing the Grandparents' Charter, which sets out the rights of grandparents but is not legally binding.
advertisementGrandparents Apart urged the SNP to listen to their demands and warned failure to do so could cost them the "grey vote" at the next election.
Jimmy Deuchars, manager of Grandparents Apart UK, said: ''We're challenging the social services's and the government's policies regarding children and adoption, particularly when grandchildren are adopted to strangers. Social services used to be an organisation that cared and protected, but now they snatch the children and adopt them forcibly, alienating them from their family. Evidence from our members indicates that if grandparents then put up a fuss, they are threatened with the removal of all contact rights. What sort of a democracy is this?''

Carlisle baby was bitten, scratched and burned in three years of torture

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Sadistic Reuben Williams subjected his young daughter to nearly three years of horrific abuse which left her body covered in scars.
The doctor at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary who examined the three-year-old was so upset by what he saw that he had to leave the room to hide his distress.
Her arms, legs, and torso covered with nearly 200 scars, the child had suffered the most extreme abuse that the police officers investigating her case had ever seen.
Across the child’s bottom were 10, 5in long scars – sustained as Williams held his baby daughter down on a burning hot storage heater.
Many of the other scars were caused by Williams viciously biting and scratching his terrified daughter.
Astonishingly, the youngster’s mother – 22-year-old Elodie Massacrier – stood by her man, covering the abuse so effectively that it continued from just a few months after the child’s birth in April 2005 until just a few weeks short of her third birthday.
Fashion conscious and intelligent, Massacrier took immense care of her own appearance.
Yet her daughter’s scarring means she will probably never be able to dress fashionably or even sunbathe on a beach when she grows older, said Judge Peter Hughes QC.
At Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, the full horror of the girl’s ordeal was revealed. The judge described the child’s prolonged suffering as ''profoundly shocking''.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Judge describes child abuser as a good father

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A man convicted of sexually abusing his stepdaughter of nine has been described by a judge as a "good father".
Judge Christopher Critchlow gave the pervert, who also has convictions for assaulting her siblings, just two years in jail from a maximum of 14 - and said he could return home on release.
The court heard the girl was alone with him last October while her mum was bathing her brother and sister. He pulled down her pyjamas and performed a sex act but the girl's mum walked in and called the police. The man, who cannot be named, fled the country but was arrested on his return in November. He also had convictions for drunkenly beating the other children.