Directors told they should join frontline staff

Directors of social services should spend an hour each day
alongside their frontline staff to get a better idea of how well
they are working and help avoid future disasters like Victoria
Climbie’s case, according to counsel to the Laming inquiry,
writes Janet Snell.

Neil Garnham QC urged directors to develop the habit of dropping
in without warning and going through duty teams’ files to find out
what was going on.

Speaking at a lecture on Victoria Climbie’s legacy at
Sussex university, Garnham said: “The essence of accountability is
not just systems and procedures. It’s also what the Americans call
‘walking the talk’. Without that, managers might as well not bother
with committees and budgets.”

Garnham said that after questioning Lisa Arthurworrey for two
days he had “more than a little sympathy for her”. But he had no
such sympathy for her immediate managers or their seniors who had
subjected their staff to “wholly unacceptable” workloads. “It’s
nonsensical to suggest the blame can stop with junior staff,” he

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