UKCORRUPTFAMILYCOURTS

February 1, 2010

Interesting articles about Staffordshire County Council

Filed under: Staffordshire — nojusticeforparents @ 3:14 am
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I just thought some of you may be interested in reading the following

Staffordshire County Council (05/B/10487)

Children and family services     Maladministration causing injustice

14 December 2006

Staffordshire County Council failed to stop the bullying of a looked-after child in a residential unit, and then mishandled his complaints about it. The Ombudsman recommended the Council to apologise to the young man and pay him £3,000, as well as reinforcing to its front line residential staff the importance of following the designated complaints procedure.

‘Ed Adair’ (not his real name for legal reasons) was 19 years old. He had been a child looked after by the Council in its Hill House Residential Unit, which he considered to be his home. In 2004, after two new residents moved in, he suffered about four months of verbal and physical bullying that left him afraid and isolated. He was assaulted, abused, and his possessions were taken. A situation had been allowed to develop that posed a real risk to staff and residents. Ed Adair’s keyworker said at interview that she was afraid that there could be a death at the Unit.

Ed Adair made several complaints to the Council, but the Council did not handle them properly. The Ombudsman found that there had been significant failures in following the statutory complaints process and that it had failed to take effective action to prevent bullying within Hill House.

“Undoubtedly, the Council let him down badly,” said the Ombudsman. “Ed Adair’s experience was the stuff of nightmares, not knowing whether someone would assault him, abuse him, take his possessions or break into his room while he was asleep. For four months he lived with this anxiety and little was done to help him. The failures in dealing with his complaints and the delay meeting with him meant that the situation persisted for longer than it should have. It confirmed Ed Adair’s belief that no-one really listened and that nothing would change.”

The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice and the Council agreed to:

  • apologise again to Ed Adair;
  • pay him £3,000; and
  • reinforce the importance for front-line residential staff of following the designated complaints procedure.
     

Date Published: 03/02/09

Care worker assaulted two boys
A 66-year-old man has admitted assaulting two boys in his care at Staffordshire children’s homes.David Michael Kendrick, from Lichfield, pleaded guilty at Staffordshire Crown Court on Wednesday to causing actual bodily harm to two children during the 1980s.The assaults happened when Kendrick was working as a residential child care officer in Stafford and at the former Riverside Children’s Home in Rocester, near Uttoxeter.His offences came to light during an investigation into several allegations of abuse at children’s homes in the county, some of them stretching back decades.

Kendrick’s is the seventh conviction that has come about since the inquiry into claims of physical and sexual abuse began.

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports until 12 December.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/staffordshire/3265321.stm

Woman awarded abuse damages

Longdon Hall School, Staffordshire
Brenda Moult was 13 when she entered the care home

A Staffordshire woman has received £60,000 for psychological damage suffered as a child in a care home.Brenda Moult, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, said she was abused 20 years ago at Longdon Hall School, Staffordshire.

The payment was agreed in a out-of-court settlement with half the money being paid by Staffordshire County Council insurers and the other half by the school’s insurers.

Staffordshire County Council and Honormead Ltd, the company employed to look after her, have not admitted liability.

Convicted paedophile

Mrs Moult said £60,000 is not sufficient compensation for what she suffered.

She told the BBC’s Midlands Today programme: “I wanted justice and I have not been given justice.

Brenda Moult
Mrs Moult says that justice has not been done

 

“I haven’t been given the opportunity to stand in a court and say what I feel and try to get justice properly.”

Mrs Moult was just 13 when she was placed at Longdon Hall School – she says she was indecently assaulted by the then head of care, Richard Owen.

He was already a convicted paedophile.

She also said she was later sadistically abused again by a Staffordshire County Council worker.

This has never been proved and no one has supported her evidence.

To compile the case, lawyers had to trawl through 3,000 documents including reports, complaints and protests made by Mrs Moult.

She said: “They knew what happened.

“They knew, but didn’t care.”

A director of private company Honormead Ltd said employing a convicted paedophile would not happen today.

“We have to take every precaution.

“We do so now because we have a legal right to do so. At that time, we did not.”

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1715227.stm

Beck’s appalling crimes just the tip of child abuse scandal

 

Paedophilia: Further scandals may be revealed as inquiries show widespread cases 

By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
 

Monday, 8 January 2001 

  •  

The appalling abuse committed by Frank Beck, who was entrusted with the running of three children’s homes in Leicestershire, was what alerted police officers to the possibility that a national scandal had gone undetected.
 
Before the conviction of Beck, who was sentenced to five life terms in 1991 for sexual assaults against more than 100 children, few officers believed that such widespread and systematic abuse was possible.
 
The true scale of Beck’s crimes may never be fully known but he is estimated to have assaulted between 100 and 200 children over 13 years. He was sentenced to a further 24 years on 17 charges of abuse, including rape. He died in jail from a heart attack, aged 52, in June 1994.
 
Tony Butler, the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire and spokesman on abuse issues for chief police officers, said: “In the past social workers and police officers simply didn’t believe the children. We didn’t think that short of thing went on in children’s homes. With Beck’s trial it became painfully clear that they could and did go on in children’s homes.”
 
Since Beck, many other abuse inquiries and trials have taken place, including the report by Sir Ronald Waterhouse into the horrific abuse of children in care homes in North Wales, which was first revealed by The Independent.
 
But as a survey by this newspaper has found, an unprecedented number of investigations are continuing and many more scandals may emerge.
 
The survey gives the fullest picture to date of where the inquiries are taking place. Many police forces have attempted to keep their work secret, partly for not wanting to alert potential offenders. Some are also concerned that by going public former residents may come forward and make bogus allegations in the hope of obtaining compensation.
 
These forces would rather approach potential victims and question them away from the spotlight of publicity. Others believe publicity is one of the best ways of obtaining new witnesses.
 
The Independent survey has identified 67 separate investigations at 32 of the 44 forces in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where inquiries are either continuing or have recently been completed.
 
A national database of historic abuse inquiries, most concerning children’s homes and schools in the Seventies and Eighties, held by Gwent police, has a list of 34 forces involved in 98 separate inquiries. The numbers are increasing on a monthly basis.
 
The database aims to link alleged perpetrators to different inquires, and expose paedophile rings and examples of travelling abusers. So far the police have 59 links or “hits”. These cases are taken from a list of more than 1,800 names of suspected paedophiles, convicted abusers, and care workers, teachers and individuals, who have aroused suspicion.
 
A total of 67 investigations have been identified by The Independent. The police have asked for details of some of them to remain a secret because they are at a particularly sensitive stage. They involve more than 400 homes and school, at least 2,000 victims, 415 suspects, and have in excess of 400 detectives working on them full-time. They have so far resulted in at least 51 convictions and there are 25 trials pending.
 
Many of the inquiries are huge and involve substantial resources. In Greater Manchester, Operation Cleopatra is investigating more than 66 care homes. Operation Flight in Gwent is investigating 19 homes, including the former children’s home at Ty Mawr near Abergavenny in west Wales. The police want to trace 10,000 former residents.
 
In Devon and Cornwall, Operation Lentisk is examining allegations of abuse throughout the two counties between 1960 and 1985. A 34-strong team is investigating allegations from more than 230 former pupils and residents against 102 alleged offenders.
 
Not surprisingly, considering the vast area it covers, the Metropolitan Police has the most investigations, with 22 recorded on the national police database. These include a 31-strong team to look at 30 local authority care homes in Lambeth over allegations of abuse against up to 200 children, said to have happened from 1974 to 1994.
 
Operation Care in Merseyside is investigating 84 care establishments. So far 27 people have been convicted of physical and sexual abuse.
 
The care scandal started to emerge in 1989 when the police investigated a series of complaints from past residents about abuse in Castle Hill, a privately owned home in Ludlow, Shropshire, which took in children from local authorities. Allegations of abuse were made by 57 victims, and in 1991 Ralph Morris, proprietor of the home, was jailed for 12 years.
 
The inquiry sparked off a series of new investigations, most notably in Staffordshire, North Wales and Leicestershire.
 
The extent of the institutional abuse, in which hundreds of vulnerable children suffered the most appalling assaults and mental torture, was illustrated by the Tribunal of Inquiry headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse. His report, published last February, said at least 650 people had been abused in children’s homes in North Wales.
 
But while many people had hoped that the worst of the care scandals had already come to light, the extent of the current investigations, and likelihood that these will mushroom, make this a vain hope.
 
* The latest child abuse scandal to hit the Catholic church came to light yesterday as police confirmed investigations into accusations of sexual abuse and brutality by monks.
 
A report is said to name 12 former teachers and care workers at St Ninian’s List D School. The school, operated by the Catholic teaching order the De La Salle Brothers in Gartmore House, Stirlingshire, was closed almost 20 years ago.
 
The allegations, which cover more than two decades – between 1960 and 1982 – are believed to centre on seven monks and five staff. Two ofthe monks have since died while the remaining five have retired.

 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/becks-appalling-crimes-just-the-tip-of-child-abuse-scandal-702598.html

Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 6 March 2002

Jury told of beatings at children’s home

By Sentinel Reporter
A 33-year-old labourer from Stoke-on-Trent told a jury how he was beaten and humiliated by a deputy head officer at a county children’s home.
 

Darren Underhill was aged 15 when he claims he was subjected to a series of assaults by Thomas Watson at Riverside Community Home School in Rocester.
 

He told the jury at Stafford Crown Court one of the beatings took place after he ran away from the social services home.
 

Mr Underhill said: “He said ‘you are going to have it when you get back’. I was thrown in a cell and there were four members of staff there. I got hit first and went down.
 

“I curled up in a ball and the next thing I knew I was kicked and punched. It might have lasted for a minute or two. I was screaming.”
 

He said he was taken to a medical room and received four stitches to a shin wound.
 

Stafford Crown Court heard Watson, aged 57, assaulted Mr Underhill after he refused to eat.
 

“I was sitting at a table and I had the food in front of me but I did not want to eat it,” Mr Underhill said.
 

“He pushed the table against me and smashed the plate over my head. I could not breathe. When he let the table go he hit me. I got slaps and punches.”
 

Mr Underhill also described Watson jumping off a table to cane him with extra force and being given a pair of silky shorts to wear.
 

“You took off your trousers and pants and put the shorts on to be caned,” he said.
 

Mr Underhill described Watson as a Jekyll and Hyde character.
 

“Sometimes you got a beating and sometimes you could have a fag off him,” he said.
 

Unemployed fairground worker, John Henry Bentley, aged 31, from Stafford was sent to the Riverside home, which is now closed, after playing truant.
 

He described how he had to count out the number of strokes he received from the cane.
 

“I had to touch my toes with my underpants on. You had to count them out and if you missed them you would get hit again,” he said.
 

He added: “Slaps and punches were a part of every day life there.”
 

Designated members of staff were allowed to give corporal punishment to children at homes in the 1980s but it had to be within strict guidelines. Caning was to be limited to six strokes.
 

Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood, denies eight counts of causing cruelty to a child and five counts of causing actual bodily harm to boys in his care between 1979 and 1985.
 

The trial continues.
 


Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 6 March 2002

Children ‘beaten with plimsoll’

The former deputy head officer at a care home used a black pump – which he called Boris – to beat children on their bare backsides, a court heard.
 

Jason Walters, aged 30, of Stoke-on-Trent, said he was hit with the plimsoll at Riverside Community Home School, Rocester, by Thomas Watson.
 

Mr Walters described how he had been taken into care, aged 10, and had spent around 12 months in the observation and assessment unit which was run by Watson.
 

He said: “I came into contact with Mr Watson every time I ran off.
 

“I ran off because I did not want to be there because I was getting assaulted. Mr Watson was slippering me.
 

“Mr Watson said ‘I’ll stop you from running off, you can meet Boris’.”
 

Mr Walters added: “I said ‘who is Boris?’ and he got a black plimsoll out. He asked me to bend over.”
 

He told Stafford Crown Court he received six of the best from Watson.
 

“The plimsoll was to the bare bottom. As it was happening he said ‘are you going to run off again?’. I was screaming,” said Mr Walters.
 

Riverside was a Staffordshire County Council run home which housed children taken into the care of social services.
 

Designated members of staff were allowed to give corporal punishment to children at homes in the 1980’s but it had to be within strict guidelines. Caning was to be limited to six strokes.
 

Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood, denies eight counts of causing cruelty to a child and five counts of causing actual bodily harm to boys in his care between 1979 and 1985. The trial continues.
 


masthead Birmingham Post, 12 March 2002

Care worker denies cruelty

By Staff Reporter

A care worker accused of cruelty when he caned boys at Staffordshire children’s homes yesterday denied that he also used plimsolls with pet names of Boris and Percy to punish them.
 

Thomas Watson, (57), worked at Chadswell home, Lichfield, and Riverside home, Rocester near Uttoxeter, between January 1979 and January 1985.
 

Julia Macur QC, prosecuting, said Watson was the ‘designated care worker’ for the purpose of administering corporal punishment at the two Staffordshire County Council homes and was allowed to beat boys with a cane.
 

Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood, Staffordshire, denies eight charges of child cruelty and five of assault on nine complainants.
 

He told Stafford Crown Court that when he caned the youngsters “I was not very keen on the idea. It was undignified.”
 

He said he inspected boys’ buttocks “to see that it had not caused damage. If they were hit too hard it could draw blood but I never saw cutting of the skin in any way.”
 

Watson told Christopher Millington QC, defending, that he did not physically assault one youth or punch him in the stomach or slap his face.
 

He said on one occasion when he was alleged to have caned another boy at Riverside he was at Lichfield at the time.
 

He said he never caned a boy without another member of staff being present because of regulations. He described as “rubbish” a claim by one youth that he administered seven strokes of a cane.
 

Mr Millington said: “Three youths complained you struck them with a plimsoll or pump.”
 

Watson replied: “No.”
 

Mr Millington continued: “And that you used Boris and Percy as pet names for the pumps or plimsolls.”
 

Watson replied: “I had no reason to use them if the cane was available.”
 


Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 19 March 2002

Editorial

Man Who Thought He Was Above The Law Of The Land

Youngsters sent to Riverside Community Care Home were certainly ‘no angels’.
 

These schoolchildren had been taken into the care of Staffordshire Social Services because they had started a life of crime or because they were out of control in their own homes.
 

They would have rightly expected to face a regime of strict discipline at the Rocester care home they were sent to live in. They would have expected to face corporal punishment if they stepped out of line too often. It was the 1980s and up to six strokes of the cane were permitted by law. But the boys, removed from the security of the family home, would not have dreamt they could be subjected to violent physical assaults by the man who was responsible for their care – Thomas Watson.
 

Watson was the head of the observation and assessment unit at the home which closed at the end of the 1980s and he spent two years as the deputy head. A large man, he used physical threats and violence to keep youngsters under his control in check.
 

Some boys would run away. Riverside was in the middle of the Staffordshire countryside and the youngsters did not know where they were going. But they still ran.
 

The 1980s was a different era to today. Designated members of staff were allowed to administer corporal punishment but it had to be within strict guidelines. Watson however, thought he was above the law. He was wrong.
 


Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 20 March 2002

Victims Urged To Talk To Abuse Detectives

By Dave Jones

Victims of abuse at children’s homes in Staffordshire were today urged to come forward.
 

An investigation into claims of sexual and physical abuse at children’s homes across the county has been on going since 1999.
 

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Dunning of Staffordshire Police is now appealing for anyone who has information on any incidents to come forward.
 

He said the vast majority of the alleged offences were committed against children who attended the former Riverside Community Home School, Rocester, during the 1980s.
 

The move comes after Thomas Watson, a 57-year-old former deputy headmaster of the school, was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months yesterday. He was found guilty of two counts of committing cruelty to a child.
 

Mr Dunning, who is leading the investigation, said: “Staffordshire Police is committed to investigating historic allegations of abuse occurring within Staffordshire.
 

“The conviction of Thomas Watson serves to reinforce that commitment and determination to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
 

Staffordshire Police started the investigation into allegations of historic physical and sexual abuse at children’s homes throughout Staffordshire in June 1999.
 

Thomas Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood worked at Riverside Community Home School, Rocester from 1979 to 1988. He became the deputy headmaster in 1986.
 

Watson was found guilty of two counts of committing cruelty to a child in 1983 and was cleared of 11 other counts of causing actual bodily harm and cruelty to children.
 

Watson, had denied assaulting Darren Underhill, now a 33-year-old labourer in Stoke-on-Trent.
 

Mr Underhill, who was 15-years-old when he was sent to Riverside, had described a series of attacks to a jury at Stafford Crown Court.
 

He said Watson had launched a viscous attack on him one evening after he refused to eat his dinner, smashing a plate over his head and ramming a table into his stomach.
 

Sentencing Judge John Shand said the fact Watson had been convicted on two separate counts meant he could not treat his actions as a “lapse”.
 

He said: “There was no reason for you to act as you did. You were in breach of your trust.”
 

In sentencing he said he took into account Watson’s previous good character, his age and the fact the offences related back to the 1980’s.
 

The 17-strong police investigation team looking into allegations of abuse at children’s homes is being run from an incident room at Stafford.
 

Anyone who has information they wish to discuss can talk to member of the inquiry team in the strictest of confidence on 01785 218660.

http://www.corpun.com/ukr00203.htm

Terrible legacy that haunts so many children

 

VICTIMS OF THE ABUSERS: How the architects of suffering escaped detection for d ecades
 

Rebecca Fowler

Saturday, 20 April 1996
 

  • When Frank Beck resigned after 13 years of running children’s homes in Staffordshire a decade ago, he wanted a reference to apply for a post with a social-work agency. The local social services wrote enthusiastically that he was “above questioning.”
  •  

    It emerged five years later that Beck had led a reign of abuse from 1973 to 1986 at three children’s homes in the county. The man who was above questioning was a vicious paedophile who had sexually, emotionally and physically abused more than 100 children in his care.

     

    No case could better sum up the failings of social services for the care of children who cannot live with their own families. Although Beck was eventually given five life sentences in 1991, and died in prison of a heart attack in 1994, he has left a legacy in the recurring nightmares of the children he abused and the loopholes that remain in the system.

     

    Despite the fact that children reported Beck and he was interviewed four times by police in the Seventies and Eighties over abuse allegations, he was cleared each time. The police, according to the subsequent inquiry, were not predisposed to believe the children.

     

    But no formal system was ever set up to address complaints against Beck, who used his infamous regression therapy on his charges who were forced to wear nappies, and was convicted of rape and buggery.

     

    The absence of a central regulatory body meant there was no one to appeal to outside the authority. The lack of interest was summed up by one social worker in the report who said: “I have hard kids to place and here was someone who would take them without asking too many questions. I dare not upset him.”

     

    Other councils were anxious to believe that the Beck scandal could never happen in their homes. But across Britain abuse has been exposed in care homes. Among the greatest concerns has been the suspicion that paedophile groups were operating in homes. More than 60 children were thought to have been involved in a ring involving council staff and external abusers in Islington, north London.

     

    In the inquiry that followed last year by Ian White, Oxfordshire’s director of social services, he warned that Islington’s failure to deal with a further set of allegations in the early Nineties meant staff who may have abused children could be working in childcare elsewhere in the country.

     

    The report put local councillors in the dock as well as employees. It said managers were too terrified to deal with staff in a fiercely politically correct regime for fear of being called homophobic or racist.

     

    The revelations of abuse in Staffordshire of more than 140 children in the Eighties were equally damning. Tony Latham, a social worker, was the architect of the policy known as “pin-down” for controlling difficult children in homes.

     

    They were kept in isolation for weeks at a time in a bare room; many were forced to breaking point where they attempted suicide. But Barry O’Neil, the then director of social services, said of Latham, the policy was “to let him get on with it and not to interfere as long as he produced the goods”.

     

    When he was finally exposed, an inquiry launched in 1991 concluded he had lost sight of “minimum standards of behaviour and professional practice”.

     

    But perhaps the most disturbing scandal is that of Clwyd, North Wales, in the Seventies and Eighties, where more than 100 children may have suffered sexual abuse in homes.

     

    The attempts to suppress the report into what took place has provoked concern about how deep the corruption went. There have been calls for a public investigation of claims that social workers procured boys for people outside the homes and used the boys themselves for sex.

     

    The most enduring legacy of the scandals must be the revelation that 12 former residents of homes in North Wales are dead, in circumstances that have been linked to their time in care.

     http://www.independent.co.uk/news/terrible-legacy-that-haunts-so-many-children-1305746.html

    Council sets up trust fund for girl it failed to help

    A council which failed repeatedly to investigate complaints by a teenager that she was being beaten by her father is to set up a £10,000 trust fund for her.
    Staffordshire county council is to take the unusual step on the recommendation of the local government ombudsman, who today finds the authority guilty of maladministration causing injustice to the girl, now 16.

    The ombudsman, Jerry White, says: “The council badly let down this young person, who perceived herself to be in need of urgent help. In all, it let her down five times, and that is shameful.”

    The teenager was referred to Staffordshire social services by police or her school on five occasions in 2001 and 2002. Each time, Mr White says, the council dismissed her as a difficult youngster and “effectively turned its back on her”.

    The ombudsman discovered from the girl’s GP that she went to his surgery or hospital with injuries on four occasions in 2001 and six in 2002.

    In November 2002, the teenager herself visited social services and said she could not go home, but was refused accommodation. She returned home and, the ombudsman says, “committed a serious offence for which she subsequently received a custodial sentence”. Mr White is unable to conclude definitively that the girl was being beaten, though her mother admitted to social services that her husband had an “old school” approach to discipline.

    “I do not doubt that [the girl’s] behaviour could be challenging, but I can see no evidence of effort to explore any underlying causes with her,” Mr White says. “She was not seen alone, and the focus of the council’s involvement was to return [her] home as quickly as possible.”

    The teenager, who is not identified, is now in council care. She took her case to the ombudsman with the help of an advocacy service run by the children’s charity the NSPCC.

    The council, which has paid her a further £250 for her time and trouble in making the complaint, is accepting the ombudsman’s findings in full.

    It says it has already brought in an independent consultant to overhaul its procedures. Terry Dix, the council leader, said: “We are doing our utmost to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.”

    Peter Liver, NSPCC children’s services divisional director, said: “It can be difficult for adults to make a complaint, but for vulnerable young people it takes great courage.”

    Serious Case Reviews

    October 2008 – Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 6 weeks, admitted to hospital May 2008 with life threatening injuries.
    Paternal mental health problems, previous hospital admission.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/89515/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYOctober2008.pdf

    September 2007 –  Staffordshire  
    Young person, aged 15, hung himself.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62179/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYSeptember2008.pdf

    April 2007 –  Staffordshire
    Looked-after child, aged 15, died from drugs overdose.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62178/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYApril2008.pdf

    June 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Child, aged 15, admitted to local authority care due to physical abuse and neglect.
    Withdrawn from school, development disorders, concerns about mental state and physical care.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62177/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYJune2006.pdf

    February 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 4 weeks, admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
    Maternal mental health problems, father’s previous conviction for child abuse.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/61589/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYFebruary2006.pdf

    Child protection in Staffordshire

    Some weeks ago we sent a child protection referral to Staffordshire county council following the chief inspector’s report into the forcible strip searching and videoing of a child in Werrington prison. I got reply. Apparently the council doesn’t think it has to bother to investigate properly because the threshold of harm has not been crossed. Forcibly stripping a child is, according the child protection experts in Staffordshire, a legal and proportionate response. We can all rest happy that the child did not, I am comfortingly told, sustain any physical injuries. There is no discussion about whether he was traumatised or felt that he had been assaulted or even sexually assaulted.

    The letter says that the strip searching of children in prison is compliant with Prison Service Standards. So, as long as the Prison Service sets its own rules and abides by them, they can do what they like. It appears that normal child protection can be blithely ignored by children’s services.

    We are considering taking this further.

    // [

    Heartbroken mum told you are ‘not clever enough’ to look after 2-year-old

    Sep 6 2009 by Justine Halifax, Sunday Mercury 

    MUM ‘NOT CLEVER ENOUGH’ 

    A HEARTBROKEN Midland mum has claimed social workers have snatched her two year-old away from her because they say she is not clever enough to care for him. 

    The 28 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pleading with social services at Staffordshire County Council for her young son to be allowed to live back home with her and her parents in Tamworth. 

    The single mother, who is on anti-depressants for post natal depression, claims her only son, who is being currently cared for by foster parents, was taken away from her because social services ruled she was not bonding well enough with him. 

    The unemployed mother also claims her learning difficulties played a part in the youngster being taken out of her care. 

    The court case will be heard tomorrow. 

    She said: “I have learning difficulties, but I don’t think my son should have been taken away from me. 

    “I am really upset and angry they said we weren’t bonding well enough because we are really close. 

    “Now I see him twice a week and he keeps asking why he can’t come home.” 

    She added: “I have tried to explain he’s on holiday with his foster parents, who are really lovely, but he’s only two and he cries because he doesn’t understand. I just want him back home with me. 

    Upsetting 

    “My dad is not well with Alzheimer’s, and he’s very close to his grandson, so it’s really stressing him out and upsetting him that he’s not with us too.” 

    Staffordshire County Council said the future care of her son would be decided in court. 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Social Care and Health said: “The Adult Social Care and Health team has been working closely with this woman for over two years now. During this time she has been offered several options of support. More recently, we have provided her with advocacy arrangements and a solicitor to represent her interests. 

    “Alternative arrangements have been made with the local authority to look after her son whilst a court date concerning his future welfare is fixed.” 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Children and Lifelong Learning Directorate, which deals with all social care matters regarding children, said: “Children and Families Services have been working with this family for some considerable time. 

    “Specialist assessments have been undertaken and these will inform the future care planning, which will be determined by court processes. A court date has been set for September.” 

    The devastated mother added: “I’m upset this is going to court. I just hope the court decides he can come to live back home with me.” 

    sundaymercury@sundaymercury.net

    MP joins row over wait for key files

    Aug 26 2009
      
       
    by Lynn Grainger  
     
    Stafford’s MP David Kidney has blasted social services for failing to provide a local mother with files about her children that she claims contain inaccurate information which led to the limited access she has to her sons. The distraught woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been waiting for 18 months to see the reports. 

    And now Mr Kidney has called for an investigation to establish whether Staffordshire County Council has breached the Data Protection Act as it should have handed over the files within 40 days. 

    The Stafford mother first requested to see all the information Staffordshire County Council held on her children in January 2008. 

    She told the Post she understands the files contain inaccuracies about her which could have affected family court proceedings. 

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    In April this year David Kidney received a pledge the files would be released within 40 days after he contacted the authority on her behalf. 

    “She came to me because she had already been waiting far too long,” he said. “I am spitting mad because the council then wrote to me and said they were going to give her the information and she still does not have it. Some light certainly needs shining on this situation.” 

    He has now written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) calling for an investigation into the council’s actions. 

    In April the woman scored a partial victory when her claims that the council had failed to respond to an information request and that inaccurate information was held were partially upheld. 

    However, she has STILL not been given access to the files. 

    She told the Post: “Social services expect parents to be open and transparent so I do not think it is unreasonable for parents to expect the same in return. 

    “All I want is justice and accountability.” 

    The issue of local authorities ‘dragging their heals’ over information has recently been raised by family campaign group Parents Against Injustice. 

    Speaking earlier this year Alison Stevens, head of the organisation, said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days but they are often not following public law guidelines.” 

    A spokesperson for Staffordshire County Council said this week: “The issue of supplying case files concerning [her] children extends further than a data protection issue, which would normally carry a deadline of 40 days. 

    “We have recently taken advice from the Information Commissioner, as we have to balance her right of access to information with the children’s best interests and their right to confidentiality. 

    “Now we have received the advice from the Information Commissioner, a meeting will be held imminently to discuss this matter to agree what information she will be provided with.”

     http://icstafford.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/tm_headline=mp-joins-row-over-wait-for-key-files%26method=full%26objectid=24536208%26siteid=87875-name_page.html#story_continue

    THIS WOMAN STILL HAS NOT RECIEVED ANY FILES AND IT IS NOW BEING TAKEN UP BY THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

     
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    When Frank Beck resigned after 13 years of running children’s homes in Staffordshire a decade ago, he wanted a reference to apply for a post with a social-work agency. The local social services wrote enthusiastically that he was “above questioning.”

     

    It emerged five years later that Beck had led a reign of abuse from 1973 to 1986 at three children’s homes in the county. The man who was above questioning was a vicious paedophile who had sexually, emotionally and physically abused more than 100 children in his care.

     

    No case could better sum up the failings of social services for the care of children who cannot live with their own families. Although Beck was eventually given five life sentences in 1991, and died in prison of a heart attack in 1994, he has left a legacy in the recurring nightmares of the children he abused and the loopholes that remain in the system.

     

    Despite the fact that children reported Beck and he was interviewed four times by police in the Seventies and Eighties over abuse allegations, he was cleared each time. The police, according to the subsequent inquiry, were not predisposed to believe the children.

     

    But no formal system was ever set up to address complaints against Beck, who used his infamous regression therapy on his charges who were forced to wear nappies, and was convicted of rape and buggery.

     

    The absence of a central regulatory body meant there was no one to appeal to outside the authority. The lack of interest was summed up by one social worker in the report who said: “I have hard kids to place and here was someone who would take them without asking too many questions. I dare not upset him.”

     

    Other councils were anxious to believe that the Beck scandal could never happen in their homes. But across Britain abuse has been exposed in care homes. Among the greatest concerns has been the suspicion that paedophile groups were operating in homes. More than 60 children were thought to have been involved in a ring involving council staff and external abusers in Islington, north London.

     

    In the inquiry that followed last year by Ian White, Oxfordshire’s director of social services, he warned that Islington’s failure to deal with a further set of allegations in the early Nineties meant staff who may have abused children could be working in childcare elsewhere in the country.

     

    The report put local councillors in the dock as well as employees. It said managers were too terrified to deal with staff in a fiercely politically correct regime for fear of being called homophobic or racist.

     

    The revelations of abuse in Staffordshire of more than 140 children in the Eighties were equally damning. Tony Latham, a social worker, was the architect of the policy known as “pin-down” for controlling difficult children in homes.

     

    They were kept in isolation for weeks at a time in a bare room; many were forced to breaking point where they attempted suicide. But Barry O’Neil, the then director of social services, said of Latham, the policy was “to let him get on with it and not to interfere as long as he produced the goods”.

     

    When he was finally exposed, an inquiry launched in 1991 concluded he had lost sight of “minimum standards of behaviour and professional practice”.

     

    But perhaps the most disturbing scandal is that of Clwyd, North Wales, in the Seventies and Eighties, where more than 100 children may have suffered sexual abuse in homes.

     

    The attempts to suppress the report into what took place has provoked concern about how deep the corruption went. There have been calls for a public investigation of claims that social workers procured boys for people outside the homes and used the boys themselves for sex.

     

    The most enduring legacy of the scandals must be the revelation that 12 former residents of homes in North Wales are dead, in circumstances that have been linked to their time in care.

     http://www.independent.co.uk/news/terrible-legacy-that-haunts-so-many-children-1305746.html

    Council sets up trust fund for girl it failed to help

    A council which failed repeatedly to investigate complaints by a teenager that she was being beaten by her father is to set up a £10,000 trust fund for her.
    Staffordshire county council is to take the unusual step on the recommendation of the local government ombudsman, who today finds the authority guilty of maladministration causing injustice to the girl, now 16.

    The ombudsman, Jerry White, says: “The council badly let down this young person, who perceived herself to be in need of urgent help. In all, it let her down five times, and that is shameful.”

    The teenager was referred to Staffordshire social services by police or her school on five occasions in 2001 and 2002. Each time, Mr White says, the council dismissed her as a difficult youngster and “effectively turned its back on her”.

    The ombudsman discovered from the girl’s GP that she went to his surgery or hospital with injuries on four occasions in 2001 and six in 2002.

    In November 2002, the teenager herself visited social services and said she could not go home, but was refused accommodation. She returned home and, the ombudsman says, “committed a serious offence for which she subsequently received a custodial sentence”. Mr White is unable to conclude definitively that the girl was being beaten, though her mother admitted to social services that her husband had an “old school” approach to discipline.

    “I do not doubt that [the girl’s] behaviour could be challenging, but I can see no evidence of effort to explore any underlying causes with her,” Mr White says. “She was not seen alone, and the focus of the council’s involvement was to return [her] home as quickly as possible.”

    The teenager, who is not identified, is now in council care. She took her case to the ombudsman with the help of an advocacy service run by the children’s charity the NSPCC.

    The council, which has paid her a further £250 for her time and trouble in making the complaint, is accepting the ombudsman’s findings in full.

    It says it has already brought in an independent consultant to overhaul its procedures. Terry Dix, the council leader, said: “We are doing our utmost to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.”

    Peter Liver, NSPCC children’s services divisional director, said: “It can be difficult for adults to make a complaint, but for vulnerable young people it takes great courage.”

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     http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/sep/09/society.localgovernment

    Serious Case Reviews

    October 2008 – Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 6 weeks, admitted to hospital May 2008 with life threatening injuries.
    Paternal mental health problems, previous hospital admission.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/89515/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYOctober2008.pdf

    September 2007 –  Staffordshire  
    Young person, aged 15, hung himself.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62179/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYSeptember2008.pdf

    April 2007 –  Staffordshire
    Looked-after child, aged 15, died from drugs overdose.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62178/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYApril2008.pdf

    June 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Child, aged 15, admitted to local authority care due to physical abuse and neglect.
    Withdrawn from school, development disorders, concerns about mental state and physical care.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62177/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYJune2006.pdf

    February 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 4 weeks, admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
    Maternal mental health problems, father’s previous conviction for child abuse.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/61589/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYFebruary2006.pdf

    Child protection in Staffordshire

    Some weeks ago we sent a child protection referral to Staffordshire county council following the chief inspector’s report into the forcible strip searching and videoing of a child in Werrington prison. I got reply. Apparently the council doesn’t think it has to bother to investigate properly because the threshold of harm has not been crossed. Forcibly stripping a child is, according the child protection experts in Staffordshire, a legal and proportionate response. We can all rest happy that the child did not, I am comfortingly told, sustain any physical injuries. There is no discussion about whether he was traumatised or felt that he had been assaulted or even sexually assaulted.

    The letter says that the strip searching of children in prison is compliant with Prison Service Standards. So, as long as the Prison Service sets its own rules and abides by them, they can do what they like. It appears that normal child protection can be blithely ignored by children’s services.

    We are considering taking this further.

    // <![CDATA[

    Heartbroken mum told you are ‘not clever enough’ to look after 2-year-old

    Sep 6 2009 by Justine Halifax, Sunday Mercury 

    MUM ‘NOT CLEVER ENOUGH’ 

    A HEARTBROKEN Midland mum has claimed social workers have snatched her two year-old away from her because they say she is not clever enough to care for him. 

    The 28 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pleading with social services at Staffordshire County Council for her young son to be allowed to live back home with her and her parents in Tamworth. 

    The single mother, who is on anti-depressants for post natal depression, claims her only son, who is being currently cared for by foster parents, was taken away from her because social services ruled she was not bonding well enough with him. 

    The unemployed mother also claims her learning difficulties played a part in the youngster being taken out of her care. 

    The court case will be heard tomorrow. 

    She said: “I have learning difficulties, but I don’t think my son should have been taken away from me. 

    “I am really upset and angry they said we weren’t bonding well enough because we are really close. 

    “Now I see him twice a week and he keeps asking why he can’t come home.” 

    She added: “I have tried to explain he’s on holiday with his foster parents, who are really lovely, but he’s only two and he cries because he doesn’t understand. I just want him back home with me. 

    Upsetting 

    “My dad is not well with Alzheimer’s, and he’s very close to his grandson, so it’s really stressing him out and upsetting him that he’s not with us too.” 

    Staffordshire County Council said the future care of her son would be decided in court. 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Social Care and Health said: “The Adult Social Care and Health team has been working closely with this woman for over two years now. During this time she has been offered several options of support. More recently, we have provided her with advocacy arrangements and a solicitor to represent her interests. 

    “Alternative arrangements have been made with the local authority to look after her son whilst a court date concerning his future welfare is fixed.” 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Children and Lifelong Learning Directorate, which deals with all social care matters regarding children, said: “Children and Families Services have been working with this family for some considerable time. 

    “Specialist assessments have been undertaken and these will inform the future care planning, which will be determined by court processes. A court date has been set for September.” 

    The devastated mother added: “I’m upset this is going to court. I just hope the court decides he can come to live back home with me.” 

    sundaymercury@sundaymercury.net

    MP joins row over wait for key files

    Aug 26 2009
      
       
    by Lynn Grainger  
     
    Stafford’s MP David Kidney has blasted social services for failing to provide a local mother with files about her children that she claims contain inaccurate information which led to the limited access she has to her sons. The distraught woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been waiting for 18 months to see the reports. 

    And now Mr Kidney has called for an investigation to establish whether Staffordshire County Council has breached the Data Protection Act as it should have handed over the files within 40 days. 

    The Stafford mother first requested to see all the information Staffordshire County Council held on her children in January 2008. 

    She told the Post she understands the files contain inaccuracies about her which could have affected family court proceedings. 

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    In April this year David Kidney received a pledge the files would be released within 40 days after he contacted the authority on her behalf. 

    “She came to me because she had already been waiting far too long,” he said. “I am spitting mad because the council then wrote to me and said they were going to give her the information and she still does not have it. Some light certainly needs shining on this situation.” 

    He has now written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) calling for an investigation into the council’s actions. 

    In April the woman scored a partial victory when her claims that the council had failed to respond to an information request and that inaccurate information was held were partially upheld. 

    However, she has STILL not been given access to the files. 

    She told the Post: “Social services expect parents to be open and transparent so I do not think it is unreasonable for parents to expect the same in return. 

    “All I want is justice and accountability.” 

    The issue of local authorities ‘dragging their heals’ over information has recently been raised by family campaign group Parents Against Injustice. 

    Speaking earlier this year Alison Stevens, head of the organisation, said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days but they are often not following public law guidelines.” 

    A spokesperson for Staffordshire County Council said this week: “The issue of supplying case files concerning [her] children extends further than a data protection issue, which would normally carry a deadline of 40 days. 

    “We have recently taken advice from the Information Commissioner, as we have to balance her right of access to information with the children’s best interests and their right to confidentiality. 

    “Now we have received the advice from the Information Commissioner, a meeting will be held imminently to discuss this matter to agree what information she will be provided with.”

     http://icstafford.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/tm_headline=mp-joins-row-over-wait-for-key-files%26method=full%26objectid=24536208%26siteid=87875-name_page.html#story_continue

    THIS WOMAN STILL HAS NOT RECIEVED ANY FILES AND IT IS NOW BEING TAKEN UP BY THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

     
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    The appalling abuse committed by Frank Beck, who was entrusted with the running of three children’s homes in Leicestershire, was what alerted police officers to the possibility that a national scandal had gone undetected.
     
     

    The appalling abuse committed by Frank Beck, who was entrusted with the running of three children’s homes in Leicestershire, was what alerted police officers to the possibility that a national scandal had gone undetected.
     
    Before the conviction of Beck, who was sentenced to five life terms in 1991 for sexual assaults against more than 100 children, few officers believed that such widespread and systematic abuse was possible.
     
    The true scale of Beck’s crimes may never be fully known but he is estimated to have assaulted between 100 and 200 children over 13 years. He was sentenced to a further 24 years on 17 charges of abuse, including rape. He died in jail from a heart attack, aged 52, in June 1994.
     
    Tony Butler, the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire and spokesman on abuse issues for chief police officers, said: “In the past social workers and police officers simply didn’t believe the children. We didn’t think that short of thing went on in children’s homes. With Beck’s trial it became painfully clear that they could and did go on in children’s homes.”
     
    Since Beck, many other abuse inquiries and trials have taken place, including the report by Sir Ronald Waterhouse into the horrific abuse of children in care homes in North Wales, which was first revealed by The Independent.
     
    But as a survey by this newspaper has found, an unprecedented number of investigations are continuing and many more scandals may emerge.
     
    The survey gives the fullest picture to date of where the inquiries are taking place. Many police forces have attempted to keep their work secret, partly for not wanting to alert potential offenders. Some are also concerned that by going public former residents may come forward and make bogus allegations in the hope of obtaining compensation.
     
    These forces would rather approach potential victims and question them away from the spotlight of publicity. Others believe publicity is one of the best ways of obtaining new witnesses.
     
    The Independent survey has identified 67 separate investigations at 32 of the 44 forces in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where inquiries are either continuing or have recently been completed.
     
    A national database of historic abuse inquiries, most concerning children’s homes and schools in the Seventies and Eighties, held by Gwent police, has a list of 34 forces involved in 98 separate inquiries. The numbers are increasing on a monthly basis.
     
    The database aims to link alleged perpetrators to different inquires, and expose paedophile rings and examples of travelling abusers. So far the police have 59 links or “hits”. These cases are taken from a list of more than 1,800 names of suspected paedophiles, convicted abusers, and care workers, teachers and individuals, who have aroused suspicion.
     
    A total of 67 investigations have been identified by The Independent. The police have asked for details of some of them to remain a secret because they are at a particularly sensitive stage. They involve more than 400 homes and school, at least 2,000 victims, 415 suspects, and have in excess of 400 detectives working on them full-time. They have so far resulted in at least 51 convictions and there are 25 trials pending.
     
    Many of the inquiries are huge and involve substantial resources. In Greater Manchester, Operation Cleopatra is investigating more than 66 care homes. Operation Flight in Gwent is investigating 19 homes, including the former children’s home at Ty Mawr near Abergavenny in west Wales. The police want to trace 10,000 former residents.
     
    In Devon and Cornwall, Operation Lentisk is examining allegations of abuse throughout the two counties between 1960 and 1985. A 34-strong team is investigating allegations from more than 230 former pupils and residents against 102 alleged offenders.
     
    Not surprisingly, considering the vast area it covers, the Metropolitan Police has the most investigations, with 22 recorded on the national police database. These include a 31-strong team to look at 30 local authority care homes in Lambeth over allegations of abuse against up to 200 children, said to have happened from 1974 to 1994.
     
    Operation Care in Merseyside is investigating 84 care establishments. So far 27 people have been convicted of physical and sexual abuse.
     
    The care scandal started to emerge in 1989 when the police investigated a series of complaints from past residents about abuse in Castle Hill, a privately owned home in Ludlow, Shropshire, which took in children from local authorities. Allegations of abuse were made by 57 victims, and in 1991 Ralph Morris, proprietor of the home, was jailed for 12 years.
     
    The inquiry sparked off a series of new investigations, most notably in Staffordshire, North Wales and Leicestershire.
     
    The extent of the institutional abuse, in which hundreds of vulnerable children suffered the most appalling assaults and mental torture, was illustrated by the Tribunal of Inquiry headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse. His report, published last February, said at least 650 people had been abused in children’s homes in North Wales.
     
    But while many people had hoped that the worst of the care scandals had already come to light, the extent of the current investigations, and likelihood that these will mushroom, make this a vain hope.
     
    * The latest child abuse scandal to hit the Catholic church came to light yesterday as police confirmed investigations into accusations of sexual abuse and brutality by monks.
     
    A report is said to name 12 former teachers and care workers at St Ninian’s List D School. The school, operated by the Catholic teaching order the De La Salle Brothers in Gartmore House, Stirlingshire, was closed almost 20 years ago.
     
    The allegations, which cover more than two decades – between 1960 and 1982 – are believed to centre on seven monks and five staff. Two ofthe monks have since died while the remaining five have retired.

     http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/becks-appalling-crimes-just-the-tip-of-child-abuse-scandal-702598.html

    Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 6 March 2002

    Jury told of beatings at children’s home

    By Sentinel Reporter
    A 33-year-old labourer from Stoke-on-Trent told a jury how he was beaten and humiliated by a deputy head officer at a county children’s home.
     

    Darren Underhill was aged 15 when he claims he was subjected to a series of assaults by Thomas Watson at Riverside Community Home School in Rocester.
     

    He told the jury at Stafford Crown Court one of the beatings took place after he ran away from the social services home.
     

    Mr Underhill said: “He said ‘you are going to have it when you get back’. I was thrown in a cell and there were four members of staff there. I got hit first and went down.
     

    “I curled up in a ball and the next thing I knew I was kicked and punched. It might have lasted for a minute or two. I was screaming.”
     

    He said he was taken to a medical room and received four stitches to a shin wound.
     

    Stafford Crown Court heard Watson, aged 57, assaulted Mr Underhill after he refused to eat.
     

    “I was sitting at a table and I had the food in front of me but I did not want to eat it,” Mr Underhill said.
     

    “He pushed the table against me and smashed the plate over my head. I could not breathe. When he let the table go he hit me. I got slaps and punches.”
     

    Mr Underhill also described Watson jumping off a table to cane him with extra force and being given a pair of silky shorts to wear.
     

    “You took off your trousers and pants and put the shorts on to be caned,” he said.
     

    Mr Underhill described Watson as a Jekyll and Hyde character.
     

    “Sometimes you got a beating and sometimes you could have a fag off him,” he said.
     

    Unemployed fairground worker, John Henry Bentley, aged 31, from Stafford was sent to the Riverside home, which is now closed, after playing truant.
     

    He described how he had to count out the number of strokes he received from the cane.
     

    “I had to touch my toes with my underpants on. You had to count them out and if you missed them you would get hit again,” he said.
     

    He added: “Slaps and punches were a part of every day life there.”
     

    Designated members of staff were allowed to give corporal punishment to children at homes in the 1980s but it had to be within strict guidelines. Caning was to be limited to six strokes.
     

    Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood, denies eight counts of causing cruelty to a child and five counts of causing actual bodily harm to boys in his care between 1979 and 1985.
     

    The trial continues.
     


    Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 6 March 2002

    Children ‘beaten with plimsoll’

    The former deputy head officer at a care home used a black pump – which he called Boris – to beat children on their bare backsides, a court heard.
     

    Jason Walters, aged 30, of Stoke-on-Trent, said he was hit with the plimsoll at Riverside Community Home School, Rocester, by Thomas Watson.
     

    Mr Walters described how he had been taken into care, aged 10, and had spent around 12 months in the observation and assessment unit which was run by Watson.
     

    He said: “I came into contact with Mr Watson every time I ran off.
     

    “I ran off because I did not want to be there because I was getting assaulted. Mr Watson was slippering me.
     

    “Mr Watson said ‘I’ll stop you from running off, you can meet Boris’.”
     

    Mr Walters added: “I said ‘who is Boris?’ and he got a black plimsoll out. He asked me to bend over.”
     

    He told Stafford Crown Court he received six of the best from Watson.
     

    “The plimsoll was to the bare bottom. As it was happening he said ‘are you going to run off again?’. I was screaming,” said Mr Walters.
     

    Riverside was a Staffordshire County Council run home which housed children taken into the care of social services.
     

    Designated members of staff were allowed to give corporal punishment to children at homes in the 1980’s but it had to be within strict guidelines. Caning was to be limited to six strokes.
     

    Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood, denies eight counts of causing cruelty to a child and five counts of causing actual bodily harm to boys in his care between 1979 and 1985. The trial continues.
     


    masthead Birmingham Post, 12 March 2002

    Care worker denies cruelty

    By Staff Reporter

    A care worker accused of cruelty when he caned boys at Staffordshire children’s homes yesterday denied that he also used plimsolls with pet names of Boris and Percy to punish them.
     

    Thomas Watson, (57), worked at Chadswell home, Lichfield, and Riverside home, Rocester near Uttoxeter, between January 1979 and January 1985.
     

    Julia Macur QC, prosecuting, said Watson was the ‘designated care worker’ for the purpose of administering corporal punishment at the two Staffordshire County Council homes and was allowed to beat boys with a cane.
     

    Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood, Staffordshire, denies eight charges of child cruelty and five of assault on nine complainants.
     

    He told Stafford Crown Court that when he caned the youngsters “I was not very keen on the idea. It was undignified.”
     

    He said he inspected boys’ buttocks “to see that it had not caused damage. If they were hit too hard it could draw blood but I never saw cutting of the skin in any way.”
     

    Watson told Christopher Millington QC, defending, that he did not physically assault one youth or punch him in the stomach or slap his face.
     

    He said on one occasion when he was alleged to have caned another boy at Riverside he was at Lichfield at the time.
     

    He said he never caned a boy without another member of staff being present because of regulations. He described as “rubbish” a claim by one youth that he administered seven strokes of a cane.
     

    Mr Millington said: “Three youths complained you struck them with a plimsoll or pump.”
     

    Watson replied: “No.”
     

    Mr Millington continued: “And that you used Boris and Percy as pet names for the pumps or plimsolls.”
     

    Watson replied: “I had no reason to use them if the cane was available.”
     


    Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 19 March 2002

    Editorial

    Man Who Thought He Was Above The Law Of The Land

    Youngsters sent to Riverside Community Care Home were certainly ‘no angels’.
     

    These schoolchildren had been taken into the care of Staffordshire Social Services because they had started a life of crime or because they were out of control in their own homes.
     

    They would have rightly expected to face a regime of strict discipline at the Rocester care home they were sent to live in. They would have expected to face corporal punishment if they stepped out of line too often. It was the 1980s and up to six strokes of the cane were permitted by law. But the boys, removed from the security of the family home, would not have dreamt they could be subjected to violent physical assaults by the man who was responsible for their care – Thomas Watson.
     

    Watson was the head of the observation and assessment unit at the home which closed at the end of the 1980s and he spent two years as the deputy head. A large man, he used physical threats and violence to keep youngsters under his control in check.
     

    Some boys would run away. Riverside was in the middle of the Staffordshire countryside and the youngsters did not know where they were going. But they still ran.
     

    The 1980s was a different era to today. Designated members of staff were allowed to administer corporal punishment but it had to be within strict guidelines. Watson however, thought he was above the law. He was wrong.
     


    Evening Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent, 20 March 2002

    Victims Urged To Talk To Abuse Detectives

    By Dave Jones

    Victims of abuse at children’s homes in Staffordshire were today urged to come forward.
     

    An investigation into claims of sexual and physical abuse at children’s homes across the county has been on going since 1999.
     

    Detective Chief Inspector Andy Dunning of Staffordshire Police is now appealing for anyone who has information on any incidents to come forward.
     

    He said the vast majority of the alleged offences were committed against children who attended the former Riverside Community Home School, Rocester, during the 1980s.
     

    The move comes after Thomas Watson, a 57-year-old former deputy headmaster of the school, was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months yesterday. He was found guilty of two counts of committing cruelty to a child.
     

    Mr Dunning, who is leading the investigation, said: “Staffordshire Police is committed to investigating historic allegations of abuse occurring within Staffordshire.
     

    “The conviction of Thomas Watson serves to reinforce that commitment and determination to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
     

    Staffordshire Police started the investigation into allegations of historic physical and sexual abuse at children’s homes throughout Staffordshire in June 1999.
     

    Thomas Watson, of Meadow View, Burntwood worked at Riverside Community Home School, Rocester from 1979 to 1988. He became the deputy headmaster in 1986.
     

    Watson was found guilty of two counts of committing cruelty to a child in 1983 and was cleared of 11 other counts of causing actual bodily harm and cruelty to children.
     

    Watson, had denied assaulting Darren Underhill, now a 33-year-old labourer in Stoke-on-Trent.
     

    Mr Underhill, who was 15-years-old when he was sent to Riverside, had described a series of attacks to a jury at Stafford Crown Court.
     

    He said Watson had launched a viscous attack on him one evening after he refused to eat his dinner, smashing a plate over his head and ramming a table into his stomach.
     

    Sentencing Judge John Shand said the fact Watson had been convicted on two separate counts meant he could not treat his actions as a “lapse”.
     

    He said: “There was no reason for you to act as you did. You were in breach of your trust.”
     

    In sentencing he said he took into account Watson’s previous good character, his age and the fact the offences related back to the 1980’s.
     

    The 17-strong police investigation team looking into allegations of abuse at children’s homes is being run from an incident room at Stafford.
     

    Anyone who has information they wish to discuss can talk to member of the inquiry team in the strictest of confidence on 01785 218660.

    http://www.corpun.com/ukr00203.htm

    Terrible legacy that haunts so many children

     

    VICTIMS OF THE ABUSERS: How the architects of suffering escaped detection for d ecades
     

    Rebecca Fowler

    Saturday, 20 April 1996
     

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    When Frank Beck resigned after 13 years of running children’s homes in Staffordshire a decade ago, he wanted a reference to apply for a post with a social-work agency. The local social services wrote enthusiastically that he was “above questioning.”

     

    It emerged five years later that Beck had led a reign of abuse from 1973 to 1986 at three children’s homes in the county. The man who was above questioning was a vicious paedophile who had sexually, emotionally and physically abused more than 100 children in his care.

     

    No case could better sum up the failings of social services for the care of children who cannot live with their own families. Although Beck was eventually given five life sentences in 1991, and died in prison of a heart attack in 1994, he has left a legacy in the recurring nightmares of the children he abused and the loopholes that remain in the system.

     

    Despite the fact that children reported Beck and he was interviewed four times by police in the Seventies and Eighties over abuse allegations, he was cleared each time. The police, according to the subsequent inquiry, were not predisposed to believe the children.

     

    But no formal system was ever set up to address complaints against Beck, who used his infamous regression therapy on his charges who were forced to wear nappies, and was convicted of rape and buggery.

     

    The absence of a central regulatory body meant there was no one to appeal to outside the authority. The lack of interest was summed up by one social worker in the report who said: “I have hard kids to place and here was someone who would take them without asking too many questions. I dare not upset him.”

     

    Other councils were anxious to believe that the Beck scandal could never happen in their homes. But across Britain abuse has been exposed in care homes. Among the greatest concerns has been the suspicion that paedophile groups were operating in homes. More than 60 children were thought to have been involved in a ring involving council staff and external abusers in Islington, north London.

     

    In the inquiry that followed last year by Ian White, Oxfordshire’s director of social services, he warned that Islington’s failure to deal with a further set of allegations in the early Nineties meant staff who may have abused children could be working in childcare elsewhere in the country.

     

    The report put local councillors in the dock as well as employees. It said managers were too terrified to deal with staff in a fiercely politically correct regime for fear of being called homophobic or racist.

     

    The revelations of abuse in Staffordshire of more than 140 children in the Eighties were equally damning. Tony Latham, a social worker, was the architect of the policy known as “pin-down” for controlling difficult children in homes.

     

    They were kept in isolation for weeks at a time in a bare room; many were forced to breaking point where they attempted suicide. But Barry O’Neil, the then director of social services, said of Latham, the policy was “to let him get on with it and not to interfere as long as he produced the goods”.

     

    When he was finally exposed, an inquiry launched in 1991 concluded he had lost sight of “minimum standards of behaviour and professional practice”.

     

    But perhaps the most disturbing scandal is that of Clwyd, North Wales, in the Seventies and Eighties, where more than 100 children may have suffered sexual abuse in homes.

     

    The attempts to suppress the report into what took place has provoked concern about how deep the corruption went. There have been calls for a public investigation of claims that social workers procured boys for people outside the homes and used the boys themselves for sex.

     

    The most enduring legacy of the scandals must be the revelation that 12 former residents of homes in North Wales are dead, in circumstances that have been linked to their time in care.

     http://www.independent.co.uk/news/terrible-legacy-that-haunts-so-many-children-1305746.html

    Council sets up trust fund for girl it failed to help

    A council which failed repeatedly to investigate complaints by a teenager that she was being beaten by her father is to set up a £10,000 trust fund for her.
    Staffordshire county council is to take the unusual step on the recommendation of the local government ombudsman, who today finds the authority guilty of maladministration causing injustice to the girl, now 16.

    The ombudsman, Jerry White, says: “The council badly let down this young person, who perceived herself to be in need of urgent help. In all, it let her down five times, and that is shameful.”

    The teenager was referred to Staffordshire social services by police or her school on five occasions in 2001 and 2002. Each time, Mr White says, the council dismissed her as a difficult youngster and “effectively turned its back on her”.

    The ombudsman discovered from the girl’s GP that she went to his surgery or hospital with injuries on four occasions in 2001 and six in 2002.

    In November 2002, the teenager herself visited social services and said she could not go home, but was refused accommodation. She returned home and, the ombudsman says, “committed a serious offence for which she subsequently received a custodial sentence”. Mr White is unable to conclude definitively that the girl was being beaten, though her mother admitted to social services that her husband had an “old school” approach to discipline.

    “I do not doubt that [the girl’s] behaviour could be challenging, but I can see no evidence of effort to explore any underlying causes with her,” Mr White says. “She was not seen alone, and the focus of the council’s involvement was to return [her] home as quickly as possible.”

    The teenager, who is not identified, is now in council care. She took her case to the ombudsman with the help of an advocacy service run by the children’s charity the NSPCC.

    The council, which has paid her a further £250 for her time and trouble in making the complaint, is accepting the ombudsman’s findings in full.

    It says it has already brought in an independent consultant to overhaul its procedures. Terry Dix, the council leader, said: “We are doing our utmost to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.”

    Peter Liver, NSPCC children’s services divisional director, said: “It can be difficult for adults to make a complaint, but for vulnerable young people it takes great courage.”

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     http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/sep/09/society.localgovernment

    Serious Case Reviews

    October 2008 – Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 6 weeks, admitted to hospital May 2008 with life threatening injuries.
    Paternal mental health problems, previous hospital admission.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/89515/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYOctober2008.pdf

    September 2007 –  Staffordshire  
    Young person, aged 15, hung himself.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62179/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYSeptember2008.pdf

    April 2007 –  Staffordshire
    Looked-after child, aged 15, died from drugs overdose.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62178/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYApril2008.pdf

    June 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Child, aged 15, admitted to local authority care due to physical abuse and neglect.
    Withdrawn from school, development disorders, concerns about mental state and physical care.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62177/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYJune2006.pdf

    February 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 4 weeks, admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
    Maternal mental health problems, father’s previous conviction for child abuse.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/61589/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYFebruary2006.pdf

    Child protection in Staffordshire

    Some weeks ago we sent a child protection referral to Staffordshire county council following the chief inspector’s report into the forcible strip searching and videoing of a child in Werrington prison. I got reply. Apparently the council doesn’t think it has to bother to investigate properly because the threshold of harm has not been crossed. Forcibly stripping a child is, according the child protection experts in Staffordshire, a legal and proportionate response. We can all rest happy that the child did not, I am comfortingly told, sustain any physical injuries. There is no discussion about whether he was traumatised or felt that he had been assaulted or even sexually assaulted.

    The letter says that the strip searching of children in prison is compliant with Prison Service Standards. So, as long as the Prison Service sets its own rules and abides by them, they can do what they like. It appears that normal child protection can be blithely ignored by children’s services.

    We are considering taking this further.

    // <![CDATA[

    Heartbroken mum told you are ‘not clever enough’ to look after 2-year-old

    Sep 6 2009 by Justine Halifax, Sunday Mercury 

    MUM ‘NOT CLEVER ENOUGH’ 

    A HEARTBROKEN Midland mum has claimed social workers have snatched her two year-old away from her because they say she is not clever enough to care for him. 

    The 28 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pleading with social services at Staffordshire County Council for her young son to be allowed to live back home with her and her parents in Tamworth. 

    The single mother, who is on anti-depressants for post natal depression, claims her only son, who is being currently cared for by foster parents, was taken away from her because social services ruled she was not bonding well enough with him. 

    The unemployed mother also claims her learning difficulties played a part in the youngster being taken out of her care. 

    The court case will be heard tomorrow. 

    She said: “I have learning difficulties, but I don’t think my son should have been taken away from me. 

    “I am really upset and angry they said we weren’t bonding well enough because we are really close. 

    “Now I see him twice a week and he keeps asking why he can’t come home.” 

    She added: “I have tried to explain he’s on holiday with his foster parents, who are really lovely, but he’s only two and he cries because he doesn’t understand. I just want him back home with me. 

    Upsetting 

    “My dad is not well with Alzheimer’s, and he’s very close to his grandson, so it’s really stressing him out and upsetting him that he’s not with us too.” 

    Staffordshire County Council said the future care of her son would be decided in court. 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Social Care and Health said: “The Adult Social Care and Health team has been working closely with this woman for over two years now. During this time she has been offered several options of support. More recently, we have provided her with advocacy arrangements and a solicitor to represent her interests. 

    “Alternative arrangements have been made with the local authority to look after her son whilst a court date concerning his future welfare is fixed.” 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Children and Lifelong Learning Directorate, which deals with all social care matters regarding children, said: “Children and Families Services have been working with this family for some considerable time. 

    “Specialist assessments have been undertaken and these will inform the future care planning, which will be determined by court processes. A court date has been set for September.” 

    The devastated mother added: “I’m upset this is going to court. I just hope the court decides he can come to live back home with me.” 

    sundaymercury@sundaymercury.net

    MP joins row over wait for key files

    Aug 26 2009
      
       
    by Lynn Grainger  
     
    Stafford’s MP David Kidney has blasted social services for failing to provide a local mother with files about her children that she claims contain inaccurate information which led to the limited access she has to her sons. The distraught woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been waiting for 18 months to see the reports. 

    And now Mr Kidney has called for an investigation to establish whether Staffordshire County Council has breached the Data Protection Act as it should have handed over the files within 40 days. 

    The Stafford mother first requested to see all the information Staffordshire County Council held on her children in January 2008. 

    She told the Post she understands the files contain inaccuracies about her which could have affected family court proceedings. 

    ADVERTISEMENT
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    In April this year David Kidney received a pledge the files would be released within 40 days after he contacted the authority on her behalf. 

    “She came to me because she had already been waiting far too long,” he said. “I am spitting mad because the council then wrote to me and said they were going to give her the information and she still does not have it. Some light certainly needs shining on this situation.” 

    He has now written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) calling for an investigation into the council’s actions. 

    In April the woman scored a partial victory when her claims that the council had failed to respond to an information request and that inaccurate information was held were partially upheld. 

    However, she has STILL not been given access to the files. 

    She told the Post: “Social services expect parents to be open and transparent so I do not think it is unreasonable for parents to expect the same in return. 

    “All I want is justice and accountability.” 

    The issue of local authorities ‘dragging their heals’ over information has recently been raised by family campaign group Parents Against Injustice. 

    Speaking earlier this year Alison Stevens, head of the organisation, said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days but they are often not following public law guidelines.” 

    A spokesperson for Staffordshire County Council said this week: “The issue of supplying case files concerning [her] children extends further than a data protection issue, which would normally carry a deadline of 40 days. 

    “We have recently taken advice from the Information Commissioner, as we have to balance her right of access to information with the children’s best interests and their right to confidentiality. 

    “Now we have received the advice from the Information Commissioner, a meeting will be held imminently to discuss this matter to agree what information she will be provided with.”

     http://icstafford.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/tm_headline=mp-joins-row-over-wait-for-key-files%26method=full%26objectid=24536208%26siteid=87875-name_page.html#story_continue

    THIS WOMAN STILL HAS NOT RECIEVED ANY FILES AND IT IS NOW BEING TAKEN UP BY THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

     
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    When Frank Beck resigned after 13 years of running children’s homes in Staffordshire a decade ago, he wanted a reference to apply for a post with a social-work agency. The local social services wrote enthusiastically that he was “above questioning.”

     

    It emerged five years later that Beck had led a reign of abuse from 1973 to 1986 at three children’s homes in the county. The man who was above questioning was a vicious paedophile who had sexually, emotionally and physically abused more than 100 children in his care.

     

    No case could better sum up the failings of social services for the care of children who cannot live with their own families. Although Beck was eventually given five life sentences in 1991, and died in prison of a heart attack in 1994, he has left a legacy in the recurring nightmares of the children he abused and the loopholes that remain in the system.

     

    Despite the fact that children reported Beck and he was interviewed four times by police in the Seventies and Eighties over abuse allegations, he was cleared each time. The police, according to the subsequent inquiry, were not predisposed to believe the children.

     

    But no formal system was ever set up to address complaints against Beck, who used his infamous regression therapy on his charges who were forced to wear nappies, and was convicted of rape and buggery.

     

    The absence of a central regulatory body meant there was no one to appeal to outside the authority. The lack of interest was summed up by one social worker in the report who said: “I have hard kids to place and here was someone who would take them without asking too many questions. I dare not upset him.”

     

    Other councils were anxious to believe that the Beck scandal could never happen in their homes. But across Britain abuse has been exposed in care homes. Among the greatest concerns has been the suspicion that paedophile groups were operating in homes. More than 60 children were thought to have been involved in a ring involving council staff and external abusers in Islington, north London.

     

    In the inquiry that followed last year by Ian White, Oxfordshire’s director of social services, he warned that Islington’s failure to deal with a further set of allegations in the early Nineties meant staff who may have abused children could be working in childcare elsewhere in the country.

     

    The report put local councillors in the dock as well as employees. It said managers were too terrified to deal with staff in a fiercely politically correct regime for fear of being called homophobic or racist.

     

    The revelations of abuse in Staffordshire of more than 140 children in the Eighties were equally damning. Tony Latham, a social worker, was the architect of the policy known as “pin-down” for controlling difficult children in homes.

     

    They were kept in isolation for weeks at a time in a bare room; many were forced to breaking point where they attempted suicide. But Barry O’Neil, the then director of social services, said of Latham, the policy was “to let him get on with it and not to interfere as long as he produced the goods”.

     

    When he was finally exposed, an inquiry launched in 1991 concluded he had lost sight of “minimum standards of behaviour and professional practice”.

     

    But perhaps the most disturbing scandal is that of Clwyd, North Wales, in the Seventies and Eighties, where more than 100 children may have suffered sexual abuse in homes.

     

    The attempts to suppress the report into what took place has provoked concern about how deep the corruption went. There have been calls for a public investigation of claims that social workers procured boys for people outside the homes and used the boys themselves for sex.

     

    The most enduring legacy of the scandals must be the revelation that 12 former residents of homes in North Wales are dead, in circumstances that have been linked to their time in care.

     http://www.independent.co.uk/news/terrible-legacy-that-haunts-so-many-children-1305746.html

    Council sets up trust fund for girl it failed to help

    A council which failed repeatedly to investigate complaints by a teenager that she was being beaten by her father is to set up a £10,000 trust fund for her.
    Staffordshire county council is to take the unusual step on the recommendation of the local government ombudsman, who today finds the authority guilty of maladministration causing injustice to the girl, now 16.

    The ombudsman, Jerry White, says: “The council badly let down this young person, who perceived herself to be in need of urgent help. In all, it let her down five times, and that is shameful.”

    The teenager was referred to Staffordshire social services by police or her school on five occasions in 2001 and 2002. Each time, Mr White says, the council dismissed her as a difficult youngster and “effectively turned its back on her”.

    The ombudsman discovered from the girl’s GP that she went to his surgery or hospital with injuries on four occasions in 2001 and six in 2002.

    In November 2002, the teenager herself visited social services and said she could not go home, but was refused accommodation. She returned home and, the ombudsman says, “committed a serious offence for which she subsequently received a custodial sentence”. Mr White is unable to conclude definitively that the girl was being beaten, though her mother admitted to social services that her husband had an “old school” approach to discipline.

    “I do not doubt that [the girl’s] behaviour could be challenging, but I can see no evidence of effort to explore any underlying causes with her,” Mr White says. “She was not seen alone, and the focus of the council’s involvement was to return [her] home as quickly as possible.”

    The teenager, who is not identified, is now in council care. She took her case to the ombudsman with the help of an advocacy service run by the children’s charity the NSPCC.

    The council, which has paid her a further £250 for her time and trouble in making the complaint, is accepting the ombudsman’s findings in full.

    It says it has already brought in an independent consultant to overhaul its procedures. Terry Dix, the council leader, said: “We are doing our utmost to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.”

    Peter Liver, NSPCC children’s services divisional director, said: “It can be difficult for adults to make a complaint, but for vulnerable young people it takes great courage.”

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     http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/sep/09/society.localgovernment

    Serious Case Reviews

    October 2008 – Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 6 weeks, admitted to hospital May 2008 with life threatening injuries.
    Paternal mental health problems, previous hospital admission.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/89515/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYOctober2008.pdf

    September 2007 –  Staffordshire  
    Young person, aged 15, hung himself.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62179/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYSeptember2008.pdf

    April 2007 –  Staffordshire
    Looked-after child, aged 15, died from drugs overdose.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62178/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYApril2008.pdf

    June 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Child, aged 15, admitted to local authority care due to physical abuse and neglect.
    Withdrawn from school, development disorders, concerns about mental state and physical care.
    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/62177/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYJune2006.pdf

    February 2006 –  Staffordshire
    Baby, aged 4 weeks, admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
    Maternal mental health problems, father’s previous conviction for child abuse.

    http://www.staffsscb.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E00269FB-30DC-4E80-9062-F52FB3426303/61589/MicrosoftWordEXECUTIVESUMMARYFebruary2006.pdf

    Child protection in Staffordshire

    Some weeks ago we sent a child protection referral to Staffordshire county council following the chief inspector’s report into the forcible strip searching and videoing of a child in Werrington prison. I got reply. Apparently the council doesn’t think it has to bother to investigate properly because the threshold of harm has not been crossed. Forcibly stripping a child is, according the child protection experts in Staffordshire, a legal and proportionate response. We can all rest happy that the child did not, I am comfortingly told, sustain any physical injuries. There is no discussion about whether he was traumatised or felt that he had been assaulted or even sexually assaulted.

    The letter says that the strip searching of children in prison is compliant with Prison Service Standards. So, as long as the Prison Service sets its own rules and abides by them, they can do what they like. It appears that normal child protection can be blithely ignored by children’s services.

    We are considering taking this further.

    // <![CDATA[

    Heartbroken mum told you are ‘not clever enough’ to look after 2-year-old

    Sep 6 2009 by Justine Halifax, Sunday Mercury 

    MUM ‘NOT CLEVER ENOUGH’ 

    A HEARTBROKEN Midland mum has claimed social workers have snatched her two year-old away from her because they say she is not clever enough to care for him. 

    The 28 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pleading with social services at Staffordshire County Council for her young son to be allowed to live back home with her and her parents in Tamworth. 

    The single mother, who is on anti-depressants for post natal depression, claims her only son, who is being currently cared for by foster parents, was taken away from her because social services ruled she was not bonding well enough with him. 

    The unemployed mother also claims her learning difficulties played a part in the youngster being taken out of her care. 

    The court case will be heard tomorrow. 

    She said: “I have learning difficulties, but I don’t think my son should have been taken away from me. 

    “I am really upset and angry they said we weren’t bonding well enough because we are really close. 

    “Now I see him twice a week and he keeps asking why he can’t come home.” 

    She added: “I have tried to explain he’s on holiday with his foster parents, who are really lovely, but he’s only two and he cries because he doesn’t understand. I just want him back home with me. 

    Upsetting 

    “My dad is not well with Alzheimer’s, and he’s very close to his grandson, so it’s really stressing him out and upsetting him that he’s not with us too.” 

    Staffordshire County Council said the future care of her son would be decided in court. 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Social Care and Health said: “The Adult Social Care and Health team has been working closely with this woman for over two years now. During this time she has been offered several options of support. More recently, we have provided her with advocacy arrangements and a solicitor to represent her interests. 

    “Alternative arrangements have been made with the local authority to look after her son whilst a court date concerning his future welfare is fixed.” 

    A spokesman for Staffordshire’s Children and Lifelong Learning Directorate, which deals with all social care matters regarding children, said: “Children and Families Services have been working with this family for some considerable time. 

    “Specialist assessments have been undertaken and these will inform the future care planning, which will be determined by court processes. A court date has been set for September.” 

    The devastated mother added: “I’m upset this is going to court. I just hope the court decides he can come to live back home with me.” 

    sundaymercury@sundaymercury.net

    MP joins row over wait for key files

    Aug 26 2009
      
       
    by Lynn Grainger  
     
    Stafford’s MP David Kidney has blasted social services for failing to provide a local mother with files about her children that she claims contain inaccurate information which led to the limited access she has to her sons. The distraught woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been waiting for 18 months to see the reports. 

    And now Mr Kidney has called for an investigation to establish whether Staffordshire County Council has breached the Data Protection Act as it should have handed over the files within 40 days. 

    The Stafford mother first requested to see all the information Staffordshire County Council held on her children in January 2008. 

    She told the Post she understands the files contain inaccuracies about her which could have affected family court proceedings. 

    ADVERTISEMENT
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    In April this year David Kidney received a pledge the files would be released within 40 days after he contacted the authority on her behalf. 

    “She came to me because she had already been waiting far too long,” he said. “I am spitting mad because the council then wrote to me and said they were going to give her the information and she still does not have it. Some light certainly needs shining on this situation.” 

    He has now written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) calling for an investigation into the council’s actions. 

    In April the woman scored a partial victory when her claims that the council had failed to respond to an information request and that inaccurate information was held were partially upheld. 

    However, she has STILL not been given access to the files. 

    She told the Post: “Social services expect parents to be open and transparent so I do not think it is unreasonable for parents to expect the same in return. 

    “All I want is justice and accountability.” 

    The issue of local authorities ‘dragging their heals’ over information has recently been raised by family campaign group Parents Against Injustice. 

    Speaking earlier this year Alison Stevens, head of the organisation, said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days but they are often not following public law guidelines.” 

    A spokesperson for Staffordshire County Council said this week: “The issue of supplying case files concerning [her] children extends further than a data protection issue, which would normally carry a deadline of 40 days. 

    “We have recently taken advice from the Information Commissioner, as we have to balance her right of access to information with the children’s best interests and their right to confidentiality. 

    “Now we have received the advice from the Information Commissioner, a meeting will be held imminently to discuss this matter to agree what information she will be provided with.”

     http://icstafford.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/tm_headline=mp-joins-row-over-wait-for-key-files%26method=full%26objectid=24536208%26siteid=87875-name_page.html#story_continue

    THIS WOMAN STILL HAS NOT RECIEVED ANY FILES AND IT IS NOW BEING TAKEN UP BY THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

     
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    Click here for more from Stoke
    See also:
    28 Sep 01 | England
    Child abuse worker jailed
    07 Sep 01 | Scotland
    Care assistant convicted of rapes
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.

     

     
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    1 Comment »

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      Comment by Shayla — August 21, 2012 @ 5:15 am | Reply


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