Independent report clears Haringey social workers in ‘baby snatch’ case

Two Haringey Council social workers who allegedly “snatched” a baby from outside his former foster home have been cleared of breaching good practice guidelines.

An independent report, commissioned by the north London council, found the practitioners removed the child for adoption quickly because they believed his former foster carer would abscond with him and would not co-operate with them.

But the report, seen by Community Care, criticises the lack of support provided to the carer after the removal of the child, known as Child C, whom she had looked after for 16 months.

And it has emerged that the copy of the report intended for the foster carer was sent to her neighbour, who opened it, due to a mistake in the address.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillor Bob Hare said he was “absolutely appalled” by the mistake and said he would write to director of children’s services Sharon Shoesmith to complain.

The child was taken from the carer in August last year, hours after she lost a High Court battle for guardianship, and was placed with adoptive parents.

The report rejects the carer’s complaint that Child C’s abrupt removal breached good practice, despite five witness statements from neighbours that the social workers ran with the child, who was screaming, to a nearby car. According to the report, the practitioners had concerns that the carer was a “flight risk”, despite Child C not holding a passport. 

However, it upholds part of the carer’s complaint that she had been left “sobbing on the pavement”. “The lack of co-ordination to provide support for the carer was concerning,” the report states. “She was undoubtedly left alone in a very distressed state following the child’s removal.”

The report recommends the carer should receive an acknowledgement from Haringey of the distress the child’s removal caused her and that she should be allowed to write a goodbye letter or make a video.

A spokesperson for the council said: “It is a detailed and comprehensive report and we accept its findings in full.”

Contact the author: Sally Gillen


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