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Save Children Stand-up for their Rights

Six years old; just six. He was brutally killed, Arthur Labinjo Hughes, not in the jungle; under the watch of Social Services. Then the Government sets up a serious case review labelled

“A major review into the circumstances leading up to murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with him in the months before he died.” Why do we need a case review? Who is fooling who? As the publication Community Care asked in 2010, what-have-we-learned-child-death-scandals-since 1944?

Back in 2012, Social Workers who took part in a British Association of Social Workers 2012 Survey, on the state of social work, among many harrowing stories, shared some of their worries:

 The team I work in, currently, is working at dangerous caseload levels in terms of child protection work.

“Limiting employment of the necessary social work staff (due to on-going cutbacks). This in turn is placing pressure of high caseloads on existing staff and is detrimental to the service user in respect to the support time they are given. Cutbacks and the desire to save money appears to have a higher priority than delivering the best possible service to our service users. I am afraid that one day soon the sticking plaster will break due to overstretching.”

“Caseloads are becoming increasingly unmanageable and increases anxiety in staff, as well as staff going off sick long term with the rest of the team having to carry their case load too. We social workers get criticised left, right and centre by managers, other professionals and service users and get worn out by the emotional strain this puts on us. It is another serious case review waiting to happen.”

In May 2014, just as Social Worker predicted in May 2012, another child known to Social Services, Jai Joshi, aged four, was killed. On May 21 2014, who was known to have a mental health condition, deliberately set fire to her home, with her four-year-old son in the house. She died in the fire, which claimed the life of her son, Jai, too.

As usual, just like social workers predicted in 2012, the authorities announced the customary Serious Case Review.

After spending three years, and five years after social workers warned and predicted that a child, like Jai, would tragically be killed, again, Lancashire Safeguarding Children’s board concluded that “his death “could not have been predicted”. Interestingly, having concluded, that Jai’s death “could not have been predicted,” the Review, by the way, said it found that  “Individual workers, in Liverpool Children’s Services and Merseyside Police were compromised” in their work due to pressures and workload demands.” Eight years later, here we are again- another serious case review, to tell us what?

To paraphrase Bob Marley, what we need to do is to get up, stand up, and stand up for children’s human rights. Better resourced and managed services and better supported social workers is what we need. Not another serious case review. May the soul of Arthur Labinjo Hughes rest in peace.