New FOI Request: Damages Awarded To Families Because Of Council Failings


Digging deep remains an occupational hazard when attempting to access official information despite the Freedom of Information Act.

Researching Reform

As the government appears to be busy with Brexit and other things, we thought it would be good to remind it that child welfare matters aren’t going away any time soon. Our latest Freedom Of Information Request asks for a breakdown of damages awarded to families, by council. 

After coming across this archived post we wrote in 2012 predicting a surge in damages being paid out to families failed by local authorities, we decided to find out if these kinds of awards were on the rise. The request though, is unlikely to offer a definitive answer.

We already know that local authorities’ insurance companies have a vested interest in making complaints go away. The thinking is that the more complaints make it through, the more damages the council may have to pay, which effectively means the more money insurance companies have to shell out. As a result, insurance companies have…

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The violence of one set of humans towards another set shows no sign of abating and history proves we are no more tolerant now than our forefathers, but modern technology ensures more of us learn about the inhumanity of man more quickly.

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Coroner: Baby Poppi Sexually Abused By Father Just Before She Died


This is a horror story that defies description. That a toddler should have suffered such trauma is beyond human understanding.

Researching Reform

A senior coroner has concluded that baby Poppi Worthington was sexually assaulted by her father, just hours before her death.

Poppi died of horrific injuries in 2012. Her story hit the headlines when it was revealed that a serious catalog of failings by social services and police meant that the person responsible for her death would most likely never be charged.

Ministers became so concerned by the case that in 2016, politicians held a meeting in the House of Commons to call for an inquiry into Poppi’s death.

It was widely believed that Poppi’s father inflicted her fatal injuries, which included sexual assault. Two fact-finding judgments by a high court family judge in 2014 and 2016 found that Paul Worthington had abused his daughter shortly before her death.

David Roberts, senior coroner for Cumbria, said that the 13 month old baby had most likely been sexually abused in the early…

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Trends In Child Protection


A little knowledge is a dangerous thing we’re told; it would be well if social workers remembered this before thrusting their often unwelcome attentions where they are not required. Parental instincts often guide where the ‘trained minds’ of the professionals fear to go. It’s all about survival and is one of the strongest of our primeval attributes and that ‘gut’ feeling is rarely wrong.

Researching Reform

2018 is set to be another interesting year for child welfare.

If last year was about government understanding how children impact the economy and society from the ground up, this year will be about a broader awareness of how government can empower under resourced services by looking at the ingenious ways in which families have begun to access information.

The first trend policy makers and stakeholders will need to watch is the growing use of social media, by both families and professionals. Parents and children have been using social media for several years now, primarily for support and advice purposes. Social workers are taking to sites like Facebook and Twitter to contact hard to reach families, and to gain some insight into their service users. Like all internet activity, it can be a force for good when used properly, but there are still some important concerns surrounding child professionals’ use…

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Social Worker (Wrongly) Accuses Mum Of Impersonating Complaints Ombudsman – And It’s Hilarious.


We all make mistakes, but some are real howlers.

Researching Reform

One of the things that frustrates us the most about current social work practice is the bloody minded way in which professionals refuse to correct records when mistakes are made. But this latest case is not without its funny moments.

An ongoing child protection complaint involving a mother who has been routinely denied access to her children’s records, has taken a bizarre turn.

Trying desperately to access information held by the local authority in question, and having made several complaints about the way she and her family have been treated by the council, the mother decided to enlist the help of complaints ombudsman, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

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The case was accepted, and so the professional for the HCPC made a telephone call to the relevant social worker at the council to collect details about the child protection professional the mother had lodged a complaint against. The council…

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