Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sharon Shoesmith

Dreadful interview by John Humphreys on R4 'Today' prog this morning. He didn't ask a single question about the inquiry into Sharon Shoesmith's dismissal as Head of Child Services (or whatever the job title was) for Haringey Borough at the command of Ed Balls. He arrogantly said "the nation wants to know who to blame" (or words to that effect). So he speaks for the nation? He certainly doesn't speak for me!

As I understood what she was trying to say - she didn't get much of a chance, and could have perhaps said it more clearly - she wasn't arguing that she shouldn't have been dismissed. (Humphreys clearly assumed she was). Only that her summary dismissal on the instructions of a politician, without a proper inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Peter Connolly's death, is unlikely to be the best way of improving the way statutory agencies deal with children at risk - and the focus absolutely has to be on learning the lessons and improving procedures. Scapegoating may make people feel better, it may sell newspapers and enable politicians to exonerate themselves but it doesn't actually enable lessons to be learned. It's not in the interest of 39,000 children at risk. In fact it may encourage a culture of secrecy and dishonesty and put them more at risk. It's irresponsible. And we are equally entitled to ask whether government has been giving the necessary resources to social services departments : it's an eye-watering caseload in many cases.

I think she's dead right, and dearly hope the appeal is lost. I have no idea as to whether she should have been dismissed, and if so on what grounds. The stupidity is that the manner of her dismissal means we will probably never know whether she should have been.