How can a child be beaten to death, yet no one is jailed?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Lovell, Jan 17, 2010.

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  1. How can a child be beaten to death, yet no one is jailed for murder?

    Amelia Hill
    The Observer, Sunday 17 January 2010
    Article history

    A Metropolitan Police detective sergeant's account of his harrowing five years working for a child protection team is published this week

    When my workmates heard I had applied to join Hackney's child protection team, they asked me: "What the hell are you going there for?" It was a fair question. Nobody wanted to join the "Cardigan Squad" – the name given to child protection officers who were seen as woolly, glorified social workers who mopped up after domestic abuse cases.

    It was the least glamorous department in the Metropolitan Police, a career cul-de-sac. Ambitious officers were expected to fight drug dealers and terrorists, the exciting big-budget departments with cool gadgets and prestigious operations.

    Not me: I wanted to get my hands dirty. And, unlike almost everyone else, I was in a position to do something about it. So, instead of accepting an offer to head part of a major new glamorous drugs task force, I transferred to child protection.

    Within a few months, I had fought machete-wielding thugs, rescued children who had pit bulls chained to their cots and confronted the horrors of ritual abuse. I had rescued dozens of kids from crack houses, kids living in unimaginable filth and kids who had burned down their own homes.

    Then there were the hostage situations, the lynch mobs and the almost impossible job of interviewing paedophiles. There was no shortage of cases to investigate. Several hundred children were on our radar at any one time and I soon had 22 on my own list to deal with.

    One of my first cases was that of an elderly couple who were bringing up their grandchild on their own. We had received reports that they had been struggling to cope and that the flat was in a bad way. That wasn't the half of it.

    The grandfather answered the door. He was missing a limb and covered in scabs. "Do you mind me asking why you have those scabs?" I asked. "Are you ill?" He stared back at me blankly for a moment. "Oh, these!" he said suddenly. "Nah, that's the bloody rats. They nibble my face at night." Good God.

    "And what about your...?" I said, pointing at the missing limb. "Yeah, well, that was an infection from the rats; the docs had to lop it off." Christ. They were slowly eating him alive.

    I did everything I could: The man was arrested, received words of advice, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute and the child wasn't taken into care.

    My next appointment that day was also par for the course. From the moment I stepped inside the flat, a low vicious growling came from upstairs. The house was a tip. There was hardly any furniture, rubbish and bin liners containing clothes covered the floor; there were sheets that looked as if they hadn't been washed in years draped over a tatty sofa doubling as a bed.

    I was steadily overpowered by the stink of animal faeces as I climbed. He started to say: "I wouldn't mate…", but it was too late. The foul smell was forgotten in an instant when an enraged pit bull leapt for my face; its jaws snapped shut just shy of my nose; it was held by a long chain clamped to the leg of a cot.

    I ran back downstairs. I couldn't believe I'd seen this. Animals such as that can, and do, tear children to shreds. I told the father that the animal had to go or we would remove his kids.

    Then there were the likes of Tyrell, a 19-month-old toddler who died in 2003 after being punched repeatedly in the head. Tyrell's mother, Sandra Rowe, 29, lived with John White.

    After he died, we discovered that we had dealt with Tyrell before. Even worse: he had been taken off the child protection register six days before he was killed. Social services had seen Tyrell four times in the month before he died. But, as ever, it's not that straightforward.

    Until the day of Tyrell's death, all his injuries were below the neck. By law, a social worker cannot lay a hand on a child whom he or she is visiting. So if the child is wearing jumpers and the parents are clever enough to make the right noises, the social worker will tick the box and leave, no doubt running with folders full of case information to catch the bus to the next case meeting, to see the third family that day, to stop by a care home to check on a child, to pick up their own kids from school and whatever else was on their impossible schedule.

    Tyrell had died needlessly. The question is: would he still be alive if social services had more resources?

    When Tyrell was born, social workers placed Rowe, who was judged to be sufficiently retarded as to be unable to cope on her own, and her son under 24-hour supervision at a foster home. But when she started seeing White, it was taken as a blessing and she was discharged. Six months later, after months of abuse, Tyrell was dead.

    White and Rowe were charged with murder, but lack of evidence meant they were prosecuted for child cruelty instead. A post-mortem examination revealed that almost every bone in Tyrell's body had been fractured. His thigh bone had been twisted, he had seven fractured ribs and a broken collarbone, and was covered in bruises. White was sentenced to three years. Rowe, who had an IQ of 50 and a reading age of five, received a two-year supervision and treatment order.

    I find it hard to live with the fact that a child can be beaten to death in the presence of its official carers and yet neither of them are either prosecuted for murder, or for the fact that the child died while in their care. New laws have introduced greater culpability in these cases, but the loophole still exists and this case was by no means the exception. Last April, Claire Biggs, from Newham, east London, was found guilty of child cruelty, while her partner, Paul Husband, was successfully prosecuted for neglect. Rhys, Biggs's two-month-old son, died on 8 May 2006 and was found to have 17 broken ribs, a broken shoulder and a fractured arm. As the cause of Rhys's death could not be established, the pair faced only cruelty charges. Biggs was jailed for eight years. Is that justice?

    Once again, the attacks went unnoticed by health workers, although they had known that Biggs had another child taken into care in 2001. Yet again, there were missed opportunities, and a breakdown in sharing information. After the Tyrell trial, Hackney council issued a statement: "The area child protection committee is concluding its investigation. Recommendations will be implemented by the respective agencies. Appropriate action will be taken as required if individual failings are identified." But the results of their investigation were never made public.

    It is precisely this sort of reaction that increases the public's antagonism towards social workers. I have not read this report, but there is another element here. It may have uncovered good practice by social workers as well. The good work that social services undoubtedly do is rarely revealed. I am all for lambasting incompetency and serious mistakes, but social workers seem to operate in a world without recognition. This is not good for their morale or their profession – and therefore, for children. We need to be transparent. It's the children whom we are supposed to be protecting, after all.

    When I joined the child protection team, I thought I had all the answers. I thought, for example, that social workers were the source of many of our problems. But I soon discovered that most social workers are dedicated professionals. Dev, a social worker, told me: "It's one of the toughest jobs in Britain, if not the toughest. Many of us crumble, some more quickly than others. Others resort to defence mechanisms; a sort of survival whereby they 'shut down', numb themselves so they don't 'see' what's in front of them any more. But who watches out for this? Nobody. Nobody but us, and we're all so busy it's every man and woman for him or herself until it hits the fan."

    Our social care system needs a massive overhaul: too many social workers have become demoralised. We have paedophiles who have been in trusted positions in society escaping with light sentences time and again. Our child protection system is outdated. There have been at least 70 public inquiries into its tragic failures. Inevitably, Lord Laming's report on the murder of Victoria Climbié repeated many of their recommendations. But the key points remain: lack of communication between agencies that should be working together; lack of training; lack of supervision; unqualified social work staff undertaking complex assessments.

    How have we let this come to pass? Why is it that children, the most precious, most vulnerable part of our society, are not provided with a five-star service to protect them when things go wrong? Is it to do with funding? These are real kids dying here, kids in England, in London, the greatest, richest city in the world, dying for the lack of a really effective system, more training and, most importantly, more social workers.

    We've been ignoring what is an enormous problem for far too long. We have to accept that a significant proportion of the population abuse thousands of children every day. Until we do so, and until we start changing our attitudes towards troublesome children, we are all guilty of neglect. The good news is that children can recover. It's up to us to get to them quickly enough and to provide them with the right kind of intervention.

    "Baby X", Det Sgt Harry Keeble's account of his years working for the Hackney child protection team until 2006, is published this week. Keeble is a pseudonym adopted at the insistence of the Metropolitan Police.

    fecking ell 8O
  2. Better him than me; I could'nt do that job. 8O

  3. Agree'd 2nd!

    That sort of work would seriously mess with your head & having the correct mentality & approach for that sort of work takes guts as not everyone can or would handle extremely difficult issues & situations.
  4. And we have the audacity to call ourselves a civilised society.
    Social workers are generally caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and when things have gone right we never here about it.

    We have 2nd generation feral parents rearing children that have not been shown the love of a family by their parents.
    Hitting, beating, abusing and neglecting children has happened since time began, but with our modern socially engineered society no body is seen to be at fault when a child is killed.
    The "mother" blames the "father/boyfriend/stepfather/latest thing with a pulse" and vis-a-versa.
    The mother blames her parents for not loving her as a child and on it goes.
    If the friends/neighbours stick their noses in they get told to "**** OFF" and its got nuffin too do wiv u.
    Some girls see babies as a route to housing/benefits and some sort of status symbol.
    Anybody found guilty of child abuse/neglect/murder/manslaughter should be chemically castrated or have a complete hysterectomy.
    Murder and manslaughter should carry an automatic life sentence with NO remission and put in general population.

    Theres an old african saying;

    It takes a family too have a child, but it takes a village too raise it.
  5. Seconded. :evil:
  6. Most social workers who have been around a few years working with children and families know when things are wrong, but cannot always pin things down to such obvious neglect as in the plod files above. Their opinions matter little unless things go so far as very serious daamage to a child.

    The 1989 Children Act put a lot of good things in place, but, whilst it SAID the interests of the child shall be paramount, other law such as human rights legislation, the increasing cost of properly supervised residential care took away half its teeth, and gave local authorities more responsibility to "look after" the child. The other fundamental problem was that it said very clearly that a child should live with its parent(s), and keep the same surroundings as far as possible. Not with many of the parents I have seen.

    Not being allowed to place children out of area where they could start anew, hanging on too long to hopes that feckless and uncaring parents might change, and now determining we should intervene with gentle helpful advice at all stages has damaged lots of children, and generated a generation of lazy parents who expect everything to be advised to them and done by nurseries, government early years projects etc.

    In the old days the health visitor looked and decided unsafe for a child and threatened them with improving their skills. It doeasn;t take weeks on a parenting course to tell someone how to clean a floor! The social worker could and say "child out", court Monday, end of, so most people put ina bit of an effort. Now the whole scene is surrounded by parental rights, ethnic complaints, chances of sompensation for injured pride etc etc.

    Nowadays we don't tell parents to get their act in gear, we must brbe them with cups of tea, give them benefits advice so they have more pocket-money for fags and drugs; and get their children looked after in a New Labour kibbutz whilst, maybe, suggesting small alterations to their skills as parents.

    Do you do it all over again with each boyfriend that moves in?

    And if something gores wrong, it is not now the parents' faults, but the social workers!
  7. But we can instantly leap to the aid of children in other countries. I don't seriously begrudge that, but we have so many problems of our own. What about the ones that are not noticed or go undetected?
  8. I used to know a copper who went to one of the Child Protection Teams but ended up having a nervous breakdown as a result of what he had to deal with. Anyone can have a child but you need a licence to go fishing. Mad, eh?
  9. I was speechless reading the article, we are a G20 country.

    We can spare £800m over 3 years for India, to help all those poor slumdog kids,
    (interestingly India is the 9th fastest growing country/economy according to the Economist). Well they can't sort out the slums and launch a f*cking moonshot at the same time without £££ help.

    Yet for our own children, we are looking at making cuts to the services that serve/protect them.

    And people ask why I want to emigrate from this glorious regime/country?
  10. Fuckin plod. We're not all nu labour ticket monkeys eh. One of my best mates in the job is on a team that deals with child abuse. Sadly the story here is reminicsent of much of what he tells me of his own work. Heartbreaking. I really don't know how he does it and remains sane. Given the budget allocated to social services/justice system, it says more about the current state of them that money that could and should be spent on saving/improving a childs life is used for things much less important.
  11. Fugly

    Fugly LE DirtyBAT

    It's not the people on the ground at fault. It's the millions thrown at the faceless pencil pushing beaurocrats who haven't got a fucking clue about what the people they "support" are trying to do.

    Too much red tape, CPS are a joke, plod at a high level is more bothered about "conforming" than actual policing.
  12. Forastero

    Forastero LE Moderator

    One of the more interesting posts to have appeared in the Int Cell recently. Nice one.
  13. My missus works at a local nursey shes received training enabling her to be a key worker, so that means she normally has to deal with kids who are "at risk". She often comes home and cries at the files she has to read and feels more than helpless quite often. Social services do a great job but as as been stated in previous posts, the amount of red tape, social workers who have there hands tied by out of date rules and regs makes the whole system grossly inadequate to deal with people who quite frankly are worse than scum.

    I live on a council estate and its the done thing to get to 15 or 16 and get pregnant by one of the local weed smoking thugs. These kids who have probably never bothered looking after themselves probably and inherited bad parenting skills from there own parents are then given a free house, free money and generally dont give a toss. People like my missus and the guy in the article then get to pick up the pieces. Im proud my kids are being brought up with a healthy outlook on life, and dont get me wrong im not generalising about council estates, ive lived on them most of my life. My kids are all under 10 and often ask me why they are not allowed to "play out" at 10 at night, its hard when they see there classmates running around in the dark, to explain to them that what im doing is right.

    I honestly think local councils should get more funding and the police more powers to help these poor kids out at the first signs of abuse rather than waiting till its too late.
  14. With very careful planning and meticulous attention to detail?
  15. :)