Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Stuart Syvret - my opinion

Stuart Syvret – what can I say…?

Well, as a politician it is only normal that you will have your supporters and your opposition, however, I do not feel that it would be appropriate to comment regarding my political opinion as this is not the story here; although I do actually agree with Senator Syvret’s perspective on the majority of issues.

My link to Senator Syvret - I wrote to Stuart on 13th June 2007 appealing against the outcome of my serious concerns complaint dated 1st January 2007, which as you will know was not upheld. I have attached my original serious concerns letter as well as my appeal letter to Senator Syvret so that you can understand the context in which it was written.


1 January 2007


To Whom It May Concern

I am the Centre Manager of the Greenfields Secure Centre. I was recruited from the UK by Joe Kennedy and Phil Dennett on a non-permanent J-category contract, and I have been in post since 1 August 2006. I now find myself in the difficult position of writing to express serious concerns about my line manager Joe Kennedy, Manager of Secure and Residential Services for the Children’s Executive.

My concerns are based on four areas:

1. I believe that Mr Kennedy’s conduct towards the vulnerable children and young people in the secure accommodation provision at the Greenfields Centre constitutes serious abuse.

In my holiday absence over Christmas, Mr Kennedy has enforced a behaviour management procedure that can potentially involve locking a young person in a room (known as single separation) for over 36 hours. I believe that this contravenes all legislation, regulations and guidance concerning looked after children in secure accommodation, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights, Every Child Matters (2003), United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), the Care Standards Act 2000 (National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes), and The Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000. Furthermore, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture 1987 stated that “solitary confinement can, in certain circumstances, amount to inhuman and degrading treatment; in any event, all forms of solitary confinement should be as short as possible.”

The Secure Accommodation Network (SAN) has produced documentation with the purpose of ensuring that staff working in secure children’s homes are clear about when and when to not use single separation. These clearly stipulate that “Single separation is considered as a last resort and all other efforts should be made to prevent this extreme action.”

The Lord Carlile of Berriew QC conducted an independent inquiry for the Howard League for Penal Reform (published January 2006) into, amongst other things, the use of solitary confinement in prisons, secure training centres and local authority secure children’s homes. His recommendations were that solitary confinement should never be used as a punishment, the child should have access to an advocate, a child’s belongings should only ever be removed from their room if they pose a demonstrable risk to the child or others, and that ‘time out’ could be a useful technique for easing tension but should never be for more than a few minutes.

During my holiday absence over the Christmas period, Mr Kennedy had Bedroom 1 prepared as a room which now has only a bed, pillow, pillowcase, duvet, duvet cover, beanbag and toilet roll in it. Mr Kennedy has formally directed staff through the communications book at the secure centre to confine a young person to Bedroom 1 upon admission to Greenfields for a minimum period of 24 hours. The entry, dated 20 December 2006, reads, “All staff - as from today room one will now be the new admission room, where new admissions will be placed after full admission. They will remain in room one for twenty four hours with good behaviour. Should any unwanted behaviour be shown then the twenty fours hours may be started from the start of compliant behaviour”.

I am unable to leave this senior management directive unchallenged. As a social care worker registered with the General Social Care Council, I am bound by their Code of Practice for Social Care Workers 2002 which states:

“Social care workers are responsible for making sure that their conduct does not fall below the standards set out in this code and that no action or omission on their part harms the wellbeing of service users. The General Social Care Council expects social care workers to meet this code and may take action if registered workers fail to do so.”

2. Since the opening of the new secure children’s home on 8 October 2006, I have felt harassed and bullied by Mr Kennedy. I have implemented a number of changes within the secure provision in order to commence the process of bringing the service in line with UK National Standards, which is one of the tasks for which I was recruited, as expressly stated in my job description. Mr Kennedy has disapproved of many of these changes. I have used the formal supervision process to raise my concerns with Mr Kennedy, but I have found him to be intimidating, oppressive, undermining, and manipulative. He has failed to respond to my frequent reasonable requests for support and collaboration, yet he repeatedly claims to be supporting me. He has rarely offered unsolicited positive feedback to me, but rather he has persistently and unfairly criticised me.

I have made Mr Kennedy aware of the fact that I feel bullied by him, and I have raised my concerns with his line manager, Phil Dennett. To date, I have not formalised my complaint against Mr Kennedy, but I now feel that his harassment and bullying has become intolerable. I fear that my employment in Jersey is now in jeopardy due to Mr Kennedy’s victimising behaviour towards me.

3. I believe that Mr Kennedy’s professional practice contravenes the States of Jersey Code of Conduct. My witness of Mr Kennedy’s actions relating to recruitment, grievance and disciplinary procedures, for example, evidences his failure to comply with States’ policies and approved practices. On one notable occasion, I challenged Mr Kennedy’s executive decision to overrule a promotion interview process which was Equal Opportunities compliant and conducted according to Human Resources policy. I have felt personally and professionally threatened by Mr Kennedy since this occasion.

4. In my position of Centre Manager, I have been informed of numerous incidences of malpractice, including sexual harassment and bullying, which are alleged to have occurred since Mr Kennedy has been employed by the Children’s Executive. It has been suggested on a number of occasions that members of staff have felt unable to formally raise these concerns about Mr Kennedy for fear of reprisal. As their manager, I feel I have a duty to advocate for them and I hope that this formal complaints process will offer them protection and enable them to express their concerns in confidence.

I am in the process of expressing my concerns about the professional practice I am experiencing at Greenfields to the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), of which I am a member. The Association has a duty to ensure as far as possible that its members discharge their ethical obligations and are afforded the professional rights which are necessary for the safeguarding and promotion of the rights of service users. The Association’s Code of Ethics expresses the values and principles which are integral to social work and to give guidance on ethical practice, and it is binding on all members.

Prior to raising this serious concern, I examined all relevant States policies. I am worried that, should this matter be investigated internally, members of staff at Greenfields will not come forward because they will not trust the confidentiality of their disclosures. I trust that this will not occur as it would contravene the Policy on Reporting Serious Concerns. My opinion is that the only means of safeguarding the openness, probity and accountability of an investigation into my serious concerns will be an external investigation or independent inquiry.

Mr Kennedy wrote to me on 29 December to explain that I will not be continuing in the post of Centre Manager at Greenfields after the end of my probation period on 31 January 2007 “unless there is a marked and sustained change”. Mr Kennedy has thus far set no SMART targets or objectives for me, so any change or improvement in the current situation would be totally open to his interpretation. I strongly feel that Mr Kennedy has no intention of keeping me in post after the end of January. Mr Kennedy is aware that I feel strongly about his directive to lock up vulnerable young people in single separation to punish them, and I will not be able to condone his professional practice which I believe is abusive.

I have supporting information regarding my concerns and written information explaining what action I have taken to date. I hope that you will act swiftly in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you by telephone at your earliest convenience. I request that this matter remain in the strictest confidence until I have spoken with you directly.

Yours faithfully




Simon Bellwood


cc Mike Pollard
Marnie Baudains
Phil Dennett


I will go in to detail about how the States of Jersey responded to this complaint at a later date, however, my letter to Stuart Syvret, after I had been dismissed was as follows;

13 June 2007

Dear Senator Syvret

I am writing to ask for your help. Until recently, I was Centre Manager at the Greenfields Centre in Five Oaks. I relocated with my family from the UK and commenced this appointment in good faith on 1 August 2006. I have significant experience of managing a local authority secure children’s home in Essex and of working with young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. I was excited by the opportunity of creating a leading secure children’s home in the wonderful new facility at Greenfields. I was assured by Phil Dennett, Coordinator of the Children’s Executive, that my skills and passion for maximising outcomes for looked after children were desired by the Children’s Executive to bring the Greenfields Centre in line with UK National Minimum Care Standards for Secure Children’s Homes.

I endeavoured to implement the changes necessary to move the secure unit forward and to improve the treatment of young people at Greenfields. I started to experience strong opposition from senior management and, unfortunately, I soon found myself in a position where I had no option but to formally raise concerns regarding the conduct of my line manager, Mr Joe Kennedy, and the practices and polices which were in place under his management. In an emotional state, I submitted a Serious Concerns complaint on 1 January 2007 to Mike Pollard and Marnie Baudains.

Several months later, following a period of enforced “garden leave” which excluded me from the workplace, I received notification from Mike Pollard (10 May 2007) that the investigation was complete and that there was no evidence to support my concerns.

I am shocked, upset and confused about how this outcome was reached by the investigating officers. I firmly believe that the openness, probity and accountability of this inquiry have not been safeguarded. It is my opinion that the investigation process has breached States of Jersey policies, procedures and best practice guidance on such matters, and that it would not withstand external scrutiny.

I believe that my concerns were well-founded and well-intentioned. I now feel compelled to appeal against the outcome and refer the matter to you for help, support and scrutiny.
-2-



Please find enclosed the Serious Concerns Complaint dated 1 January 2007 which I submitted to Marnie Baudains, Directorate Manager of Social Services and Mike Pollard, Chief Executive of Health and Social Services. Please also find enclosed the response I received from Mike Pollard informing me of the outcome of the investigations.

I hope you are feeling better and recovering well from your recent operation.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Yours sincerely



Simon Bellwood

It goes on…

Stuart’s response was to telephone me immediately and ask me for further details. He informed me that he will make further enquiries and that he will let me know what he will do next.

I was later provided with the following email correspondence – you should read this as it reveals the culture of cover-up within the States of Jersey.

After you have read this let me have your comments and I will go further – comments are such a source of inspiration that I want to by you the readers….to be continued…

4 comments:

TonyB said...

I think that your quote of staff policy from the record book in 2006 at Greenfields on Joe Kennedy's change of policy in your absense shows quite clearly that the Grand Prix style was continuing despite the States comment that "At that time the “new” Greenfields opened and the “Grand Prix” approach ended."

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/documents/propositions/5501-12096-2882007.htm

Do you have any other notes of documentary evidence like this entry, it is solid gold! What was the response to your concerns letter further up the line?

Anonymous said...

Simon.

A fascinating blog and very informative in fact all too familiar.I have had almost the exact same experience with the States of Jersey and one of their so called "investigations" of a complaint I made.

Personally speaking I can say I am aware of how the oligarchy over here operate. The Jersey people are becoming more aware of what is really going on. We are told about it on Stuart Syvret's Blog, planet jersey, many others and now yours.

This information is much appreciated and paramount to the local Jersey people in educating them and opening peoples eyes to the closed shop and self preservation mob that run out island.

What is severely lacking is what can we do about it? Stuart is very good at telling us how bad things are. You now appear to be doing the same by exposing these shysters. Stuart is now saying he's going to be leaving politics, possibly to persue another career, which simply says "f-ck you Jack, I'm in the life raft"

I don't want to pre judge your blogsite. As much as the information you are no doubt in posession of that can expose these shysters will make fascinating reading.

Are you going to offer any of your readers any kind of an alternative? We all (well most of us) know how bad things are. We know there are cover ups and we know that nobody is accountable. What we don't know is what can we do about it? Can you offer us any ideas? Have you considered getting all the disgruntled islanders together and holding an anti govermental rally?

I will look forward to your blogs with great anticipation. But I am sure it will only be a matter of time before I get bored with being informed with all the exposing of our goverment, just to find out you're in the "life raft" with Stuart.

Anonymous said...

Simon

Your letter was very detailed and illustrated that exclusion was being instigated against a child.

What was the purpose of this exclusion? Was implemented as a form of "correction"

Was it part of an admission procedure?

Did the child's parents/guardians know?

From previous blogs on Stuart's site, it seems that Mr Kennedy was not a qualified social worker and his background was that of a prison officer?

How did he come to hold such an appointment and how many staff in greenfields were qualified in childcare.

What supervision was provided by line managers to ensure safe practice?

You mention sexual harrassment in the home are you able to elaborate?
I am not surprised, a very senior manager in H&SS frequently tells female employees that to be considered for promotion they have to pass the "couch test". This is not done in jest and is part of this manager's unpleasant general behaviour.


I have more questions but I will hold back for now whilst your blog unfolds.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering how many people are following your blog, it took a while for Syvret's to get going.I bet those in politics are dreading you exposing the rot. Keep spilling the beans, it's good to hear the truth with all the details.Shame you and your family had to suffer, after you had moved to Jersey full of hope.
What a bunch of rotten buggers you had to fight against. I admire your courage, keep going.