MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Sharon Shoesmith pleads her side of the story in today’s Guardian. Her account sheds adds very little to what has already been aired in public – so rather than go over the ground I’ve blogged about at some length previously I’ll just make three brief points this time:
1. It’s a journalistic scoop for The Guardian – so I’ve no complaints over the front page lead and three full inside pages they’ve given it. But what a contrast with the way that so many people who had concerns about how Haringey services were being run under Sharon Shoesmith were side-lined, ignore or had legal injunctions banning them from speaking out. That’s one reason why we need a public inquiry – so that we can hear (and learn from) all those other stories too.
2. One point Sharon Shoesmith tries to argue in the article is one I have heard before in relation to this case – that all of this episode puts off social workers from coming to Haringey or indeed people going into the profession at all. That misses the point of the real problem – well-run services and departments attract staff. Failing to deal with concerns – as was Haringey’s way – is what lies at the root of the problems. Run services well and respond properly when concerns are raised – that’s the answer – not wishing the public and media don’t notice problems.
3. It’s a shame the coverage doesn’t address not only the question about how Haringey did (or rather didn’t) respond to concerns raised repeatedly with it over the running of Children’s Services – but also didn’t address the question of the way all the senior staff and councillors closed ranks after the death of Victoria Climbie, with only the most junior person in the food chain being disciplined. Complaints about interventions by Ed Balls or the media need to face up to that reality – last time, those other people responsible for blunders got away with it because there wasn’t this pressure. Would letting more senior people duck responsibility and blame everything on the most junior person they could find really have been the right outcome yet again?