The 12 Op-Eds of Xmas (Day 11)

Throughout the festive season, LDV is offering our readers a load of repeats another chance to read the 12 most popular opinion articles which appeared on the blog during 2008. The second most popular opinion article was by Alix Mortimer, and appeared on LDV on 16th November…

After Baby P: what can be done?

Recently, Lib Dem Voice has been snowed under with hits and comments from new readers, all expressing their anger in the face of the Baby P tragedy. (If you’re a regular, you won’t find anything in this post you don’t already know – fear not, normal LDV service will soon be resumed, but this does seem something of a special case).

If you’re one of those new readers, I’d like to suggest ways you can put your anger to good use. We can all talk endlessly about who’s to blame, what should be done with killers, what should happen to the social workers. But the reality is that none of that will bring Baby P back. You cannot change what is already done by talking.

But you can help prevent this from happening in your town. You might feel powerless. But believe it or not, you’re a citizen. You have the power to hold your own local authorities, your local councillors, and your local MPs to account – whether you’re a mother, a father, a grandparent, or even still a child yourself. You’ve probably never thought about getting involved in local politics before. Perhaps you’ve never even voted because you don’t believe you can ever change anything.

I’m asking you, bearing in mind that there may be children in your neighbourhood who are suffering and are still very much alive and saveable, to give it a try. If the government isn’t doing something right, you need to be the person asking why. You have a vote for your local council and for your MP, you pay your council tax, the council and its services are there to serve you. You have the right to demand answers of them.

Here are a few suggestions (regulars might like to contribute others in the comments):

  1. Find out the names of your local councillors. You can do this here. All councillors should hold regular sessions where their constituents can approach them about any worry or problem they have. Talk to your councillor about your concerns and ask him or her to find out about the record of the Child Protection Services in the area. Or, you could go straight to the services yourself and then approach your councillor if you find anything that worries you (see 2 and 3).
  2. Get in touch with your local Child Protection Services (they ought to be in the phone book under “council”) explain your concerns and ask how they can reassure you that nothing like the Baby P tragedy could ever happen in your town. They ought to be able to tell you about their ratings system – whether they’re Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Inadequate.
  3. Of course, ratings can be wrong – Haringey itself was rated as “Satisfactory”. So get a fresh perspective. Find your local newspaper website (they probably come through your door; if not google the name of your town along with “local newspaper”) and do a search on it for “child protection”. That ought to find any past articles about local mistakes or serious cases. Call the newspapers and ask them what they know about the case, and what happened afterwards. Were lessons really learnt? Were any mistakes dealt with properly? If the newspapers don’t know, they might be able to point you towards the right people to approach to find out.
  4. Write to your MP. You can find out who they are and how to contact them here. Ask them to sign the two Early Day Motions on child protection put forward by Lib Dem MPs John Hemming and Lynne Featherstone.
  5. Go to the local campaigning section of the NSPCC website. The NSPCC has ten local campaign co-ordinators who run campaigns about problems in their area. Find out if your nearest co-ordinator is running any events, petitions or other campaigns that you could donate time and skills to.
  6. Join the Facebook groups for Baby P and encourage others to take practical action as well – tell everyone about your local investigations on the Facebook wall.
  7. Don’t give up until you’re satisfied. You have rights – exercise them.

Just a note: it’s very important to be firm but polite. This is an emotional issue, but keep it professional. You have a right to demand answers, but you don’t have a right to be rude or abusive. If any local officer is rude or unhelpful to you, ask to be told about the complaints procedure (all councils have one) and complain. If any elected representative (MP or councillor) is rude or unhelpful to you, make sure you vote in your next local elections and in the next General Election to get them out of office.

Lastly, please come back to this site and tell us what you’ve done, and how it went. Any result, however small, is a step in the right direction. We can’t ever stamp out incompetence and mistakes altogether. But the more we hold our public services to account and demand they do a good job, the better they will be, and the less likely it is that any other child will be failed by the system as dismally as Baby P was.

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Nonconformistradical
    Mary - that doesn't answer the question of why focus on GP shortage for a local eleciton campaign?...
  • Nonconformistradical
    @theakes "There is always someone close by who can act, family, teachers, social workers etc" Evidence? Suppose the one person close by is themself a dange...
  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    @Jenny Barnes, @David Raw - of course, we can't produce new doctors instantly (although the Tories did promise 6000 more in 2019). But then, thanks to the Brexi...
  • Gordon
    Mel Borthwaite – I agree. Doubly so because ‘local’ is where LibDems are strongest. How to create a credible national party has remained an unsolved mys...
  • Jenny Barnes
    Take a step back. Why is it any concern of the state what gender you identify as or who you find attractive?...