Denise Robertson: A terrible indictment of how we fail our children

Last week's File on Four on Radio 4 was a terrible indictment of how we fail our children

The 'system' is failing to protect our most vulnerable children
The 'system' is failing to protect our most vulnerable children

Last week's File on Four on Radio 4 was a terrible indictment of how we fail our children.

'Scarlett' was groomed by a group of men from the age of 14. Both she and her mother appealed for help but none was forthcoming.

One night, men entered her house and raped her while her mother was at work. The next time they came, she ran from the house, leaving her brother behind. A fire broke out and he perished.

No one has been brought to book for that fire. Scarlett reported the rape but no one was charged.

Nor did she receive help to deal with the abuse. Instead, she was excluded from school and sent to a pupil referral unit. They didn’t let her take her GCSEs.

“I was predicted As and Bs, but it all got taken away from me. I’ve been let down so much I don’t get my hopes up any more.”

The council was invited to appear on the programme. It refused but sent a statement which, in effect, said its inter-departmental co-operation was second to none, professionals from the police, council and NHS shared information and worked together to help victims and no one fell through the net. It didn’t mention Scarlett.

Was the Safeguarding Children Board in that city incompetent or just uncaring? Has anyone been sacked?

Last week, we learned about a hospital where 16 babies died through neglect. The hospital’s chief executive left in March with a £225,000 pay-off. A string of senior staff at the trust have ‘stepped down’ with lucrative pay packets, but nobody has been sacked.

Despite multiple warnings, a Care and Quality Commission inspection gave the trust the all-clear. When a CQC official produced a dossier showing the inspection was flawed, bosses ordered its destruction.

That same CQC failed to spot the neglect at Mid-Staffordshire hospital and the abuse of disabled patients at Winterbourne View.

Last year the CQC chief executive, Cynthia Bower, and chair, Dame Jo Williams, went off with million-pound pension pots after accusations they had presided over a culture of bullying and bureaucracy.

Dame Jo was paid £60,000 a year to show up for two days each month, so in effect she earned £2,500 a day.

Over the last six months, another five senior CQC directors have quietly left with substantial redundancy packages. All were on salaries of between £110,000 and £145,000.

And still babies died. If that doesn’t make you choke on your breakfast, it should.

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