Thirty years ago
● Coventry social services director Tom White – the country’s first social services director, who went on to become influential in both the public and voluntary sector – suggested in August 1977 that remands of children to adult prisons and remand centres could be ended within the next few years for £10m a year. The cash could be obtained by diverting funds to social services departments from the Home Office, he said. Shame his forward thinking was ignored.
● Those local authorities that disagree with today’s league tables could take a leaf out of South Tyneside Council’s book. It refused to submit statistical returns to the then Department of Health and Social Services in protest at the department’s practice of circulating league tables listing top and bottom authorities. In the face of this mutiny the DHSS capitulated, agreeing to provide a range of service provision showing highs and lows for England and Wales according to types of authorities and by reference to regions but without identifying authorities by name. Shows what you can do if you stand up for your beliefs.
Fifteen years ago
● Interesting that whistleblowing has hit the headlines just as it did 15 years ago this month. The then Conservative government also promised legislation to give workers protection against victimisation if they exposed bad practice. Without this, workers who blew the whistle faced being disciplined, intimidated or gagged.
Six years later, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 came into force to encourage people to raise concerns about malpractice by protecting whistleblowers.
It’s a powerful piece of legislation as is proved by the fact that this month six care workers won a £1m settlement from Wakefield Council after launching a case under it when they were sacked for revealing mismanagement in children’s homes. It’s just a pity that they were sacked before getting any support or justice.
Five years ago
● A report looking into how “spontaneous” asylum seekers choose a country revealed the main influences were social networks and popular culture, with some saying they were Manchester United or Spice Girls fans. If that still holds true, the Home Office will be hoping that asylum seekers will now start heading for Los Angeles.