Friday, 14 November 2008

Haringey Child Abuse Scandal

I don’t want to join in the current witch-hunt against social workers.

Let’s face it nobody takes the job for the money or an easy life.

And the same witch-hunters who are making so much noise now were probably last week bemoaning a socialist conspiracy to undermine families by putting children into care. Few seem to have made the obvious connection that the reason social workers in Haringey have twice the average national caseload is because they have twice the social problems here in one of the country’s poorest communities.

But that said - as a ‘citizen’ of Haringey, I wouldn’t trust the council to run a jumble sale. Admittedly I try to keep my contact with them to a minimum – but in the past months, three experiences spring to mind:

• The electoral register - I responded immediately when I received the form through the door, by registering online. Six months later I am still being pursued, by more letters through the door, and people twice coming to the house to check up. I now appear to be locked into some sort of Kafka-esque nightmare; when I try to register again I’m told that I can’t – because I’ve already registered.

• Warning stickers on piles of rubbish – fly tipping is a real problem in the borough. But rather than just clearing it away somebody actually inspects it, puts a sticker on it and then leaves it. About a fortnight later, by which time the pile of crap has become a focus for even more fly tipping, it is finally cleared away.

• Re-development – the high street in Tottenham is dying – typical of many inner city high streets it consists of derelict units, ‘pound’ shops and fried chicken franchises. Except one area where there is a covered market with a thriving community of local independent traders. After consulting with the residents, who all wanted the market left alone, the council is going to pull it down and replace it with a mall of chain retail outlets.
To 'regenerate' the area.

In other words our council appears to be a haven of fuck-witery, jobs-worth-iness with a culture of box ticking underpinned by a condescending implication that we should be grateful that in a place like this that we get any local services at all.

All of which would be funny if it didn’t seem all to familiar when I read about the horrific child abuse of ‘Baby P’ and the incompetence of Haringey social services department.

So round here, shocking though the case is, it is also no great surprise. We deserve better from our local council.

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