In 1995, the Report of the Inquiry into the Management of Child Care in Islington included a confidential Appendix naming 32 staff who were defined as unsuitable for work with children. My efforts to expose crimes against children in Islington’s care had helped considerably to promote the establishment of a regulatory protocol for social workers managed from 2001 by a new fit for purpose body – the General Social Care Council (GSCC). This Council was responsible for maintaining a compulsory Register of social workers and for enforcing a code of practice which set out the standards of conduct required. The code helped employers, colleagues, people who use social work services, carers, and members of the public know what standards they could expect from a social worker. The Council conduct panels heard evidence against social workers who it was alleged had committed misconduct and where necessary removed social workers from the Register to prevent them practising. Continue reading
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Lessons Unlearnt -children imprisoned
Following on from my last blog, this week I obtained an original copy of the Home Office ‘Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Conduct of Standon Farm Approved School and the circumstances connected with the murder of a master at the school on 15th February 1947’. It cost me £22.00 – the original price was just 9D [pence]. It is 69 years since 4 boys were convicted of the murder of a Master at this institution and 5 others pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder. The Headmaster was dismissed and the school closed.
The Inquiry concluded that the causes of the murder included;
- The isolation of the school
- The prolonged bad weather coupled with the lack of a suitable gymnasium or adequate recreational facilities
- The prohibition of smoking and the cumulative effect of the long standing regime of limited freedom
- The collective punishments and threats of collective fines
- The inadequate system of distributing pocket money
- The inadequacy of religious guidance
- The lack of understanding on the part of the Headmaster of his boys as individuals and their belief in his unfairness particularly in respect of the uncertainty as to licensing (permission to leave the institution and be on license in the community)
- The gross carelessness of the headmaster with regard to the safe custody of fire-arms and ammunition
- The presence in the school of a boy with a very strong personality and a burning sense of grievance.
The Inquiry led to the establishment of the first secure units for children. Stronger arrangements to imprison children were defined as the solution to the prevention of such crime in the future, instead of analysing the causes of the young people’s behaviour and emphasising the importance of child-centred, therapeutic care systems.
The report makes interesting reading in the context of an inspection report detailing attacks on staff by young people in the Rainsbrook secure training centre, during the first quarter of 2016 when 5 staff needed hospital treatment. 61 boys and 13 girls, who had a custodial sentence or were on remand, were at this time in jail at Rainsbrook which was run by the private company G4S. Continue reading
Stolen childhoods – seeking justice
Stalking the Bogeyman, based on a true story, is a play about one man’s search for revenge. Twenty-five years after he was raped at age 7 years, David learnt that his ‘bogeyman’ had moved to his neighbourhood. He then planned revenge on the man who stole his childhood. The play draws sharp attention to the devastating impact of sexual crime against boys and explores sensitively how difficult it is for children to speak out about the horrors of abuse.
Peter Saunders, from NAPAC, (National Association for People Abused in Childhood) says, “What sets this play apart from others is that it pulls no punches as to what child abuse is…..and illustrates the reasons so many victims never speak out. But it also concludes with a proposition that many will find challenging. Did the Bogeyman really only strike once?”
The play is not about promoting revenge but draws attention to the psychological impact of child abuse, increases understanding and opens up debate. Continue reading
On their own: Britain’s Child Migrants: an exhibition not to be missed.
The story of British child migrants is a current survivor campaign. The children were exploited for political and economic reasons and the practice went unchallenged for decades. Here are some of my thoughts after I attended, on the 14th April, a presentation at the Museum by Margaret Humphreys (Director of the Child Migrants Trust).
The Britain’s Child Migrants exhibition is not to be missed. It provides a context for understanding the extent of state engineered crimes against children and enables us to relate this knowledge to what is happening to children today. The exhibition raises unanswered questions about the rationale for the child migration policy and who drove it forward within a context of secrecy, deception and lies. The survivor and witness accounts are painful to hear but must not be ignored if we are to relate their experiences to current children’s rights agendas.
On their own: Britain’s Child Migrants 24 October – 12 June 2016; Victoria and Albert Museum, Bethnal Green, London E2
This exhibition tells the heart-breaking true stories of Britain’s child migrants who were sent to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries between 1869 and 1970. The exhibition shares the work of the Child Migrants Trust , which has brought some comfort to former child migrants, by finding their families and reuniting them with surviving members. Continue reading
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