The Centre for Social Justice is an independent think tank which has been running since 2004. Its core aim is to assure that social justice is at the heart of British politics by studying the root causes of Britain’s acute social problems. Yesterday they published a report entitled Enough is Enough, which includes the testimonies of 50 child protection experts from across the country and 20 children who have been deemed to have been failed by social services in London. The report has been two years in the making, and weighing in at approximately 400-pages long, it is extremely detailed in nature. Unfortunately, the study’s findings do not make comfortable reading. The adjectives used to describe the current state of the system give you an inkling as to just how bad the findings really were – unscrupulous, abhorrent, overwhelmed, and in crisis.
The publication provides a damning indictment of Britain’s child protection and mental health services, stating that they are now in such a state of disarray that pouring money in to the system in a bid to attempt to patch up the faults simply will not do. Instead, the report calls for the establishment of a Royal Commission to be established to advise upon the wholesale redesign of the social and mental health care systems.
The report paints a saddening picture of the way in which the current system operates, moving as far as to deem some practices undertaken by Local Authorities as not only unscrupulous but also illegal. Indeed, the report outlines instances in which social workers have been expressly told by their bosses to downgrade “children at risk” to “children in need” on the basis that the later requires less time and money to be expended. What makes this even worse is the fact that the report also states that the point at which a child qualifies for support is consistently being set unrealistically high. The result is that there is now a group of children, who despite clearly needing support, are not being cared for by either their parents or by State services.
In short, the report has brought to light two key issues. Firstly, it has highlighted instances in which children are being neglected in two senses – in regards to the lack of care provided by their negligent parents, and also the lack of interest and action taken by local authorities to remedy this. Secondly, the report has shown that the current system is overly bureaucratic and one which places workload and budget above that of support for needy children. With current child protection practices and machinery seemingly acting as more of a hindrance than a help, calls to completely overhaul the system seems less like a radical step and more like a logical and necessary one.