Sharon Shoesmith, former director of children’s services at Haringey Council, has said full publication of serious case reviews may make agencies run for cover “even faster” when things go wrong.
At her first public appearance since she applied for a judicial review of her sacking after the Baby P case, Shoesmith told a Westminster Education Forum seminar on child protection that the full publication of serious case reviews could exacerbate the blame culture in children’s services.
“When things go wrong, agencies run for cover – not because they’re going to blame each other but because of what may be coming at them,” Shoesmith said. “The full publication of serious case reviews might make them run even faster. We don’t know yet – it might make professionals obscure the story of their particular perspectives.”
Shoesmith was speaking about the four steps needed for social care, including joint working, public accountability, higher tolerance of risk and national representation that would help when things went wrong.
She said the burden of child protection had to be more widely spread across agencies and she hoped that “one day health professionals, police and social workers will ideally work as a single service for child protection”.
She added that representative bodies “need to build confidence in their membership by showing they have an independent voice and by showing that they are not too close to government so they can make objective decisions”.
Shoesmith opened her speech by saying how sorry she had been over the death of Peter Connelly, contrary to media reports.
“What happened was absolutely devastating,” she said. “There was never any question about my feeling sorry about what happened to that little boy and for the world to be given a different impression by some elements of the media was a callous twist.”