Reputation Protection

Reputation ProtectionReputation ProtectionReputation ProtectionReputation Protection

As we’ve previously reported a Serious Case Review (SCR) concerned with the Rajenthiram brothers Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case was due to be published in July of this year. It is now November and we now learn that that the SCR will not now be published.

SCRs should be carried out by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) for every case where abuse/neglect is known or suspected and either ; a child has died or; a child has been seriously harmed and there are concerns about how organisations or professionals worked together to protect the child. Since 2010 there has been a requirement to publish SCRs in full . Accordingly Wirral’s LSCB website states:

Findings and recommendations from the Serious Case Review or SCR , will be published in full in a report , which will be publicly available on this website . The purpose of the SCR will be to learn from what happened in individual cases so that future tragedies can be prevented. SCR-Wirral

Whilst the National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) website says this about publishing SCRs:

The final SCR report, and the LSCBs response to the findings, must be published on the LSCB website for a minimum of 12 months and should be available on request. This is important for sharing lessons learnt and good practice in writing and publishing SCRs.

SCR reports should be written in such a way that publication will not be likely to harm the welfare of any children or vulnerable adults involved in the case.

The final report should:

  • provide a sound analysis of what happened in the case, and why, and what needs to happen in order to reduce the risk of recurrence
  • be written in plain English and in a way that can be easily understood by both professionals and the public and
  • be suitable for publication without needing to be amended or redacted.

The LSCB should send a copy of the final SCR to the National Panel of Independent Experts at least one week before publication. NSPCC

However Dr Maggie Atkinson , chair of Wirral’s LSCB said this week of the Rajenthiram case :

“This Serious Case Review examines – in great detail – the circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse of a child. It was my view, as chair of the safeguarding board and entirely independent of the council and all public agencies involved, that there was no way to publish the report which did not lead to a high risk of this child being identified.I could not countenance that risk. It would be morally wrong, and absolutely illegal, to risk identifying the victim of a sexual crime.My opinion was ratified by legal advice from barristers and my assessment on this matter was specifically sent to, and agreed by the Department for Education. I do agree that it is important the lessons which were learnt as a result of this tragic case are in the public domain and, to ensure they are, I had already requested that a report explaining the recommendations coming from the review – alongside the work which has been done since to address them – was published. This report will be published in the coming weeks.”

Whilst we agree that protecting the anonymity of victims is paramount we can’t help wondering who Dr Atkinson and the LSCB are actually protecting here. Oh and don’t come the ‘morally wrong’ and ‘absolutely illegal’ with us – this is Wirral Council we’re talking about and it’s never stopped them before – unless of course it suits them.

It should be remembered that one of the (many ) criticisms previously levelled at Wirral’s LSCB  by Ofsted in their damning  report ,which led to a rating of local Children’s Services to be rated ‘inadequate’, was that it was not sufficiently ‘independent’ from Wirral Council and other agencies involved in child protection.   What’s more isn’t talk of protecting victims of CSE a bit like closing the cornershop door after perpetrators have been convicted? Where was the protection from organisations and professionals when victims of CSE needed it ? That ,of course, should be the main theme of this secret SCR and based on what’s gone before who can blame us for thinking that this lurch to secrecy is more about protecting the reputations of the powerful than protecting the anonymity of the powerless?

 

The Big Lie

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it..”

There will be no wacky pictures, no funny puns and we won’t be referencing the above quote (if you don’t know it – Google it). This post will be fuelled by anger and frustration.

Anger and frustration at the news that there is a yet another damning report about Wirral Council in the pipeline. This time it’s an Ofsted report concerned with Children’s Services.

Eagle -eyed Leaks readers will have noted from previous posts and comments that we knew this was on the horizon. And inevitably what we have witnessed today is the first instalment of an exercise in damage limitation and reputation management for which Wirral Council is so well known  with a carefully controlled ‘leak’ to the Liverpool Echo.

Now if Liverpool Echo want to be Liptrotsky’s lapdog that’s between them , their advertising revenue and their tawdry ‘exclusives’. But it doesn’t mean we’re buying their bullshit and it doesn’t mean that most of us don’t know what Wirral Council are up to.

Sorry – you may have noticed but we can’t get worked up about bins or dog crap at Leaky Towers when we get confirmation that Wirral Council is failing to safeguard children and meet their educational needs.

The most damning indictment of  any  local authority is that the safety and life choices of our most vulnerable are compromised. Of course we’ve been here before with this wretched Council haven’t we?. Just as we’ve heard the platitudes and the promises dribbling out of the mouths of Council Leader and his Chief Executive when they’ve been rumbled.

I think we can all agree that the risible ‘Most Improved Council in Britain’ tag can finally be consigned to history – we note that it is conspicuously absent from Wirral Council correspondence we’ve recently received. Yes that’s right – Wirral Council have been directly in touch  with us for the very first time. But more about that another time.

I suppose we shall have to wait for the intervention of interfering Birkenhead MP Frank Field making demands for the resignation of those responsible for the findings in the upcoming report, just like he did in the past with former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox and  Director of Children’s Services Howard Cooper. Both of whom were rewarded for their varied and manifest failings with an OBE.

Or perhaps not. Field will no doubt play his part in perpetuating  ‘The Big Lie’.

So we’ll do it for him instead –   CEO Eric Robinson  , Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall , Corporate Safeguarding Manager  Simon Garner ,  Council Leader Phil Davies ,Children Services Lead Cllr Tony Smith, People Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chair Cllr Moira McLaughlin  – RESIGN NOW

EXCLUSIVE: Thick As Thieves

crime scene

Now from what we’ve observed of an increasingly desperate Wirral Council leadership is that they’ve been told to do two things  : a) praise council staff publicly even when treating them like crap and b) mention the utterly vacuous and meaningless window dressing that is their 20/20 Vision Wirral Plan at every opportunity ( “We have a plan ,we know what we’re doing – honestly”).

Well can we tell Wirral Council that judging by the increasing amount of correspondence we’re getting from the crime scene that is Wallasey Town Hall that council staff are getting increasingly pissed off with the fakery – seriously pissed off.

Nothing is pushing their badly-done-to button more than a case which in some ways is a microcosm of how Wirral Council operates. It’s a case which has been knocking about our inbox for some time and when one of our sources writes : ”  I would appreciate anonymity as we all know what happens to WMBC whistleblowers…”  this tells us everything we need to know about the poisonous culture which still seemingly infects the alleged “Most Improved Council in Britain” than any number of feelgood press releases.

Council staff are not so much singing like a canary but singing like Shirley Bassey and their song goes something like this:

“Lightfingered – he’s the man, the man with the petty cash , Council-tax payers cash……” 

This doleful refrain concerns a certain Mr.T – T in this case stands for thief
We understand that Mr.T was suspended under that polite euphemism “misappropriation of funds” (something that Wirral Council have been quite adept at themselves) and although apparently Mr.T owned up the act, he was suspended on full pay during a lengthy investigation before he was recently dismissed.

However what is vexing Council staff is that it is alleged that this matter “was not reported to the police, central government, the audit commission or Wirral council tax payers and has been swept under the carpet in true WMBC style”.

No change there then you might say (no pun intended) – especially as this was someone caught with their hands in the petty cash till  – as Wirral Council  have an inglorious record of lurching towards the twin perils of  “reputation management”  and “cover up” when it comes to situations such as this.

We understand that the figure that has been filched is approximately £30,000 but common opinion among council staff is that as there was no thorough investigation that the actual figure could be much more than this.We understand that Mr.T could have been stealing money over a number of years and nobody knows the exact amount as Wirral Council only investigated what was stolen within a particular financial year.

Of course Wirral Council are welcome to deny any of these allegations…..

Questions and comments that have been put to us – although perhaps they should be put to Wirral Council leaders or even more pertinently to Merseyside Police are :

  • Why was it so easy for Mr.T  to steal thousands of pounds?
  • Who countersigned any monies/petty cash? If not why not?
  • I suspect this is due to the fact that said colleague had access to thousands of pounds in petty cash and was able to spend from the council budget until his heart was content as he was not managed for a minimum of 3 years
  • Staff reviews should take place every year! but his line Manager left and he was then left to his own devices!! You have to ask why internal audit were not doing an annual audit? If they had this would have been picked up very early.
  • It is now believed that he is working elsewhere and had faced no consequences for his actions besides dismissal
  • This person has taken the Wirral taxpayers money and needs to be held to account.Where is the deterrent? Where is the accountability? Where is the public interest? Where’s our bloody money?

I think the only question we can actually answer is the one about Internal Audit.They were doing their usual job of obeying their political paymasters and/or being inept .However for the rest it would seem it is the usual tale of Wirral Council failing to take any responsibility for their own negligence in allowing this situation to arise in the first place.

We’re left wondering as to whether someone with £30,000 + of Council Tax arrears would avoid legal action quite so readily?. Indeed Wirral Council  seem to be labouring (no pun intended again) under the misconception that the money they lose through their negligence/incompetence is THEIR money – so it can just be written off and forgotten about.

Consequently Wirral Council leaders rap sheet of cases where they protect their positions of power by protecting wrongdoers continues to grow.

However when you’re thick as thieves with thieves,liars,bribers and bullies might we suggest to those in power it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide as to whether you still have the moral authority to run a local authority.