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Safeguarding Analysis

Dr Liz Davies: Khyra case and a failure of government policy

Dr Liz Davies is an Emeritus Professor of Social Work as well as being the social worker who blew the whistle on the Islington care homes paedophile ring in the 90s. She examines the systematic failings in the Khyra case, concluding that government policy which dilutes social worker attention away from the most serious cases must be held responsible

“There is no doubt that alarm bells should have rung loudly and led to action to protect Khyra. School staff had made referrals to children’s services following their observation of neglect, bullying, absence and bizarre parental attitudes. Neighbours had witnessed neglect and cruelty and the extended family had been distanced from seeing her, but seemingly did not alert the authorities. The education social worker and police both visited and were either not allowed into the home or were refused sight of her. It took two months for a children’s social worker to visit, see Khyra on the doorstep and decide that she seemed safe and well. Three months later Khyra died.”

“In examining why these basic procedures were not implemented, and why Khyra was unprotected, we should focus our main attention on the impact of the government policy Every Child Matters on professional practice. The agenda, which has so accelerated since the Victoria Climbié and Peter Connolly cases, emphasises prevention and a family support approach for all children in need and has distracted scarce professional resources away from the protection of those few children at risk of harm. A lack of highly skilled investigation of child abuse, and specialist social work teams, has led to errors of judgement and, as one tragedy follows another, we are witnessing the impact of this disastrous policy on vulnerable children and families. Key tools which enable professionals to protect children that have been tried and tested since the 80s, have been removed and this is a key reason why so many professionals, experiencing unsafe practice, are leaving the work.”

Read it in full: Khyra Ishaq ‘Alarm Bells should have rung’ : Channel 4 website

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