Question of conviction

article on investigations into child abuse in institutions ("Miscarriage
of Justice?", 11 April), gave space to a campaign with a clear interest in
representing convictions as unjust and shifting the balance of opinion away
from believing survivors of institutional abuse.

Saltrese advances two arguments against the convictions. First, that juries
feel forced to convict if there are a number of survivors accusing a particular
care worker. This amounts to an attack on the jury system, which is designed to
allow a group of responsible adults with no axe to grind to assess the value of
the evidence put forward in a particular case and come to a conclusion. A
jury’s choice of who to believe is the basis of all court decisions. Even the
forensic evidence that Saltrese complains is lacking depends on the judgement
and skill of professionals and juries to decide whether or not to accept it.

second argument is that "the vast majority of false allegations are
prompted by the desire for undeserved compensation". This argument betrays
his belief that he is able to discern which allegations are false or that all
allegations are prompted by expectations of compensation.

Hoskin, who is on parole having been convicted of physical abuse, indecent
assault and buggery, says complainants "were rogues, vagabonds and
twisters 25 years ago". It is shocking that convicted abusers can make
such arguments in a professional journal such as Community Care.

voice of survivors themselves was absent from the article. Men using our
organisation battle daily with the outcome of their abuse and win. I have been
fortunate to work with them and have watched a selfhelp group transform itself
into a service provider to work with survivors and invited to support witnesses
in a major historic abuse investigation now under way in the North West.

might Chris Saltrese believe them? Because each one bears the marks of his
abuse on his body, necessitating ongoing treatment from a proctologist. What
makes me believe them? The evident integrity of their lives and their
dedication to their purpose.

Fire In Ice

Inquiry replies to critics

her letter (9 May) Hilary Searing makes a number of allegations about the
Victoria Climbi‚ Inquiry, which Iwould like to refute.

inquiry is not "elitist". During its investigation into the
circumstances surrounding Victoria’s death, it called people from the bottom to
the top, of various organisations, to explain their role in the tragic episode.
Then, when the inquiry held seminars to examine ways to prevent such an event
happening again, it invited numerous front-line staff to give their views.

inquiry does not have an "ivory tower agenda". It has been charged
with finding out why it was that Victoria died and putting forward
recommendations to stop a similar incident taking place in the future. The
inquiry is doing this job fairly, robustly and independently.

inquiry has not "already decided the future direction of child protection
social work". Lord Laming has only now – after the phase one hearings and
phase two seminars – begun to write his final report.

Ms Searing says her submission to the inquiry was rejected. The fact of the
matter is that the inquiry has had more than 250 submissions for phase two and
is having to use certain criteria – such as relevance to its terms of reference
and lack of replication of points made elsewhere – to decide which ones should
be considered as evidence. Ms Searing’s submission was not selected to be
evidence, purely because it did not meet the criteria.

Secretary to the Victoria Climbie Inquiry

trust success

was somewhat puzzled with the drift of your recent editorial comment on care
trusts (11 April).

states that "it is crucial that service users view their social workers as
their advocates, not as part of the state mechanism". What do you consider
social services to be, if not part of the state mechanism?

believe the assumption that social workers will lose independence, in being
part of integrated multi-disciplinary teams, is itself flawed and based on an
archaic view of mental health nurses (or other health care professionals) as
the hand-maidens of consultants.

experience as an approved social worker and a manager is that many of the nursing
staff are confident in challenging practices in care provision that are perhaps
detrimental to our service users.

the central feature of your editorial should have been the increase "to
very high levels" of user satisfaction in the recent Somerset evaluation?

Community mental health team manager
Isle of Man

Student frustrations

experience trying to find a placement at a college has been deeply frustrating
and casts light on the fall in applications for social work training (News,
page 7, 18 April).

am a mature student and have spent two and a half years completing NVQ 2 and an
access course in health and social care at a local college. I decided to apply
for social work training at the nearest college and duly received an interview,
which was three and a half hours long and intimidating. Needless to say Iwas
refused a place.

decided I would try another college. My tutor advised me to send in another
application form, and told me there was time to apply for clearing later.

sent in an application to another college but after a month Iwas told that you
can only apply once in a cycle, and that I needed to go through clearing after

may be why recruitment is so slow for social work training. Why not make it
easier to get information and cut out some of the bureaucracy.

J Clarke

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