Thursday, March 04, 2010

It wasn't for want of the necessary powers

Social services had all the powers they needed. It was simply the fact that they didn't use them.

From the Birmingham Post:

"Lawrence and children’s director Tony Howell can bleat all they want, the truth is that their carefully hatched plot to pass on the blame for Khyra’s death has been exposed for what it is – a cynical, self-serving smokescreen.

A week ago, the pair told a press conference there was nothing more that could have been done by social services or education officials to save Khyra.

This was because Khyra had been removed from school by her mother to be educated at home, and under English law local councils have no right to demand entry to a house in order to make sure a child really is being educated.

That is true, but totally irrelevant in this case, and it didn’t take Mrs Justice King, the judge presiding over care proceedings involving Khyra’s brothers and sisters, to see through such a ludicrous excuse. As Mrs Justice King pointed out, social workers could at any time have insisted on seeing Khyra, talking to her in depth and conducting an initial assessment, they simply chose not to do so.

One of the great unanswered questions surrounding the Khyra Ishaq case is why the council became sidetracked on the issue of her education, when common sense should have suggested that information from teachers about the state of Khyra and her siblings – always thin, cold and so hungry – warranted a full social services investigation.

Another question is which bright spark dreamt up the home education excuse, and why on earth did anyone think the council would get away with it?

Presumably the assumption was that once Khyra’s mother and stepfather pleaded guilty to manslaughter and there was no need for a trial, the full details of social services’ incompetence would never emerge.

Perhaps Coun Lawrence and Mr Howell did not read Mrs Justice King’s coruscating assessment, or maybe they assumed the report would never come into the public domain?"

There's more from Paul Dale here.

"BIRMINGHAM social services bosses might have saved Khyra Ishaq if they had used powers available under the Children Act.

Under sections 10 and 11 of the 2004 Act, local authorities can insist on seeing children in order to enquire about their welfare.

Judge Mrs Justice King, in her ruling on care proceedings for Khyra’s five brothers and sisters, makes the point that if social services had conducted a proper initial assessment, and gained entry to the Leyton Road house in Handsworth, they would have discovered the appalling treatment meted out to the children.

Birmingham children’s director Tony Howell told a press briefing that strict rules preventing local authorities from gaining access to children being educated at home prevented the council from entering the house.

But the council could also have used powers under the 1996 Education Act to intervene “if it appears” that parents are not providing a suitable education.

By serving a notice under Section 437(1) of the Act, Mr Howell could have required Khyra’s parents to “satisfy the local education authority that the child is receiving suitable education”. He did not do so.

If the council was not satisfied that proper educational arrangements were in place, it could have served an order requiring Khyra to return to school.

Read the full court documents here"

Please pass this on to any Lord who might have half a mind to listen to sense.

There's more from the Stirrer and the Birmingham Mail.

Ali Moir does very well from 14 mins into the Danny Pike show.


Anonymous said...

"... which bright spark dreamt up the home education excuse, and why on earth did anyone think the council would get away with it?"

Ed Balls, by any chance?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Lawrence

Shame on you for hiding behind Home Education, it's an insult to Khyra's memory and all Home Educators and their children.

HE had absolutely nothing to do with her death and you know it, once again Social Services failed the very people they are supposed to help. This family had been reported to Social Services by teachers long before Khyra stopped attending school and once again they had no courage or conviction to do the job they are paid to do. We are sure that you have access to more information than us but from the care proceedings and other information we have gathered it must be have been clear to an imbecile that urgent action was needed long before she left school - why then was nothing done!!!!!!!!!!

Need we remind you that powers already exist to take immediate action when a child is at risk. If we saw a child scavenging for food we know exactly what we would do - perhaps you have the wrong people doing the job, or perhaps this is a common occurrence within this council ward so nobody takes any notice until it is too late and then proceed to blame others.

Peter. Carol & Peter Williams