Call inspectors to inquiry

I am surprised that Lord Laming did not call
evidence from the joint review team that inspected Haringey Council
during the period covered by the Victoria Climbie Inquiry. Surely,
if it is the brief of the inquiry to explore systemic failings,
then it must address the inspection process.

The fact that the SSI inspection reported
positively suggests that the process is flawed, particularly in
light of the evidence submitted to the inquiry. Did the inspectors
meet social workers? Did they formally meet operational managers?
Did they read any files? Did they meet any service users? If they
did not, then clearly the inspection process is meaningless and

However, if, as is more likely, they did do
these things, then this is an issue of national significance. It
may be that inaccurate information was reported back to strategic
managers. Had a more accurate picture been presented, might more
decisive action have ensued?

I would like a full explanation of why the
Laming inquiry has not summoned the SSI.

DA Harrop

System not to blame

I am amazed that a majority of your readers
appear to favour a wholly new agency for child protection in the
light of the death of Victoria Climbie (News, page 8, 28

One case of bad practice does not make a bad
system. If people do their job properly, child protection works and
it works every day for countless children.

Children have never been safer or better
protected than they are today. Awareness has never been higher. If
society wants no child ever to die then it must give us, not a new
agency, but a wholly new level of authority over people’s lives, in
which agencies would determine who has children and how they are
cared for.

Short of that degree of invasion into
individual privacy, no system can offer the kind of certainties
that even professionals seem to want. This only destroys morale and
leads to impossible expectations.

Ben Whitney
Training and development officer
Social inclusion unit, pupil and student services
Staffordshire education department

Choice is not an option

The trend to replace medium-sized local
authority homes with smaller private homes (“Smaller, but better
formed?”, 7 February) is sadly not always to do with choice.

It is because many local authority homes need
large amounts of capital investment to bring them up to standard: a
standard that has applied to the private sector for many years. The
article clearly fails to accept that the physical environment is a
key factor for all young people in residential care.

Second, the mechanism to improve quality in
the private sector has been in place for some time, which has not
been the case for local authority homes.

It is absolutely right that fewer children
should now live in children’s homes compared with 1997. That is a
trend based on good child care policy and practice and should
continue. This must surely be true, regardless of whether it is
private or local authority provision. Only those homes or
organisations which provide Best Value and the best service to
children should survive. I will welcome that date.

Alan Laming
Croham Care Services

Price is right on fights

I work in the private sector (“Smaller, but
better formed?”, 7 February) in residential provision for children
who have suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse and also
have a history of failed placement.

My post is concerned with managing aggressive
and destructive behaviour. I have developed and now deliver a
training package covering both the theoretical aspect of handling
aggressive and destructive behaviour and a restraint training
package, Protecting Rights In a Caring Environment (Price), in
order to protect clients and staff as well as complying with
various legal obligations, policies and guidelines.

All staff attend between one to three days’
training on Price within their induction. I have also designed
several risk assessments to measure issues such as as the practical
risks involved in delivering a programme of physical restraint
training. We have also adopted the British Institute of Learning
Disabilities Code of Practice for Trainers in the Use of Physical

I also monitor, analyse and interpret the
recording of all incidents of physical intervention and provide
unit-based workshops to create a closer relationship between
training and practice.

Thank you for raising this issue, but some
further research into the good practice that exists within the
private sector would be appreciated.

Felix Morris
Price instructor
Leaps & Bounds Child Care

Embrace change

I too am excited by primary care trusts (“In
whom we trust”, 28 February) and this is not just because I am one
of a number of ex-directors of social services recently appointed
to chair a new PCT.

PCTs offer real opportunity to bring together
fragmented health and social care, and their professional groups,
into more effective local arrangements: focused on enablement and
health improvement for people in their own homes; challenging
assumptions about secondary health care and the funding needs of
acute hospitals; and engaging with local partners in the tradition
of social services at their best.

My emphasis is on “arrangements” not a single
organisation. I want the primary care trust I chair to embrace both
health improvement and social care – in a meaningful way for
patients and users, regardless of how we organise, who we employ
and whether or not there is still a local social services

Brian Parrott
Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust

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