Sunday, 18 May 2008

Commentary on Phil Dennett's report - Sections 1 to 3

I would like to offer the following commentary on Phil Dennett's report.

Firstly, you may wonder why he did not interview me. He did try bless him, he telephoned me me to come in for an interview , a week after I had left Greenfields in an emotional state - the state I found myself in after many weeks of enduring bullying and harassment from Joe Kennedy which was compounded by and endorsed by Phil Dennett. During the call he asked me to come to his office for an interview, the very office which is above Joe Kennedy's, no letter, no offer for me to bring representation, no guidance on the content of the meeting - nothing.

After this call from Phil Dennett I wrote to him, I have copied this letter below.

16 January 2007

Mr P Dennett
Greenfields Centre
La Grande Route de St Martin
St Saviour

Dear Phil

I write in response to your telephone call this afternoon requesting my attendance at a meeting with you on Thursday 18 January at 9.30am. I would like to highlight the level of anxiety that this situation is causing me. I thank you for understanding my concerns that the meeting was to be conducted in your office, given that it is practically adjacent to Joe Kennedy’s office as I am sure you appreciate how stressful it would be for me to discuss important issues in this location. I am relieved therefore that the meeting is now to be held at The Bridge.

I have been advised by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) that your role in the investigation and the purpose of the meeting should be clarified by you in writing, with appropriate notice, in advance of the meeting. I also believe that, in accordance with the Serious Concerns Policy, I am entitled to be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague or a professional representative.

I have expressed concern about your objectivity in this investigation to Marnie Baudains and, in my recent interview, to Madeleine Davies. I believe that an exposure of malpractice by Joe Kennedy would implicate you, as his line manager. It could therefore be argued that you have a conflict of interests in this matter because it might be detrimental to you if issues of malpractice or abuse are found within current or previous practice at the Greenfields Centre, as you are ultimately responsible for this service provision under the Children’s Executive. I have previously mentioned that your failure to respond sympathetically to my concerns in the recent past have enabled the situation at Greenfields to escalate to the unfortunate position in which we now find ourselves.

I would like to know if Linda Dodds, as your co-investigating officer, will be present and conducting the meeting with you. Please can you also advise who will be taking notes, and whether this will be in shorthand or by note-taking?

I hope you can understand my concerns in this matter. I believe that it is in the interests of all concerned that this investigation is carried out in accordance with the Serious Concerns Policy. Moreover, should this investigation not achieve a satisfactory conclusion and require further enquiry, it will be vital that all procedures have been strictly adhered to. With this is mind, I feel that it is not appropriate for Thursday’s meeting to take place. I would like to receive written correspondence from you which clarifies the above points, together with a suggested time and date for a rescheduled meeting.

Yours sincerely

cc Marnie Baudains
Simon Bellwood Mike Pollard

I also wrote to Marnie Baudains and explained that it was simply unacceptable for the very man who endorsed all of the issues I had raised, including the grandprix system, to interview me as part of an investigation into the service for which he was responsible for. Great start to what was to be a very thorough and credible investigation by the States of Jersey - well done.

At least, following receipt of my letter they recognised that there was actually a good point to what I was saying.

So, in response, they decided that it would be better for Phil Dennett to not interview me.

Instead it was agreed that he should continue his investigation - yes the very investigation which was commissioned because I had complained about his service. So in a nutshell he would continue without the input from the person who blew the whistle on it - very clever!

Let us now look at the content of his report.

Section 1. looks at the terms of reference for the investigation. What Phil Dennett fails to point out here is that Marnie Baudains had informed him that his report should also explicitly look at the grandprix system. I am aware of this because, in response to a letter I had written, Marnie Baudains wrote to me on 23rd January 2007 stating that,

"I confirm that the terms of reference for the investigation have been broadened to include previous practice, in particular the Grand Prix behaviour management system".

The interesting thing about this is that Phil Dennett's report fails to mention the word 'grandprix' - that's right, not once. So how does the report of an investigation that has terms of reference which, according to Marnie Baudains' letter, required it to look into, "in particular the Grand Prix behaviour management system" manage to do so without writing the word once?

In fact the report also only refers to matters which predate the opening of the new Greenfields building once (which was 8th October 2006, the same day that I abolished the grandprix system).

The reference in section 12.7 states,

"12.7 There are no signs or reports of an abusive regime being operated at either the former or present Greenfields".

I will comment more on this point at a later stage.

Section 3 of Phil Dennetts report refers to the methodology used. This is perhaps one of the most important sections of the report as it provides evidence of the culture of the self serving abuse of power used by Phil Dennett to his advantage and my detriment - the very same approach adopted by other senior civil servants who have condoned his report and endorsed its findings.

Incidentally, the findings of this report were fundamental in supporting the decision to dismiss me from my post some months later on 23rd May 2007. Who was it that dismissed me? Guess, yes thats right, Phil Dennett.

back to his report. In section 3 Phil Dennett reports that he interviewed seven staff, interviewed one resident, looked at internal records, files and policies, and made some direct observations.

He also made reference to section 23(1) of the Care Standards Act 2000.

To explain this further, section 23(1) of the Care Standards Act 200 refers to the National Minimum Standards for Children's Home. If anyone knows these Standards then they will know that this is an absolute blatant lie by Phil Dennett.

To be honest there is more chance of Frank Walker giving Stuart Syvret his job back than the conclusion of Phil Dennett's investigation ever being considered as having made reference to these Standards - seriously, this is such a laughable statement to have made but does raise the levels of culpability on Phil Dennett's part.

He wouldn't know what these Standards represented if they tapped him on the shoulder and said 'Boo'.

Perhaps he used a little bit of 'Jersification' as he applied and considered them, a little bit of the 'Jersey Way' to help make them fit his own self serving views, opinions and cover-ups?

I digress, back to the important stuff.

Another thing you will notice about his methodology, is that he has not spoken to, referred to, commented etc etc, on anything outside of Jersey.

He has not used or considered any best practice, any evidence based research, or statistics from other countries at all let alone the UK which is expressly referred to in both mine and Joe Kennedy's job descriptions.

I know I have posted my complaints letter on this blog before, but I would like you to again read what I wrote in section 1 of that complaint as surely this should have guided the methodology used by Phil Dennett?:

"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.

The reason I wanted people to re-read this section is that I need to emphasise that the sentiment and basis of 'my' complaint was bench marked against all of the guidance, legislation and policy available in the UK and which provides comprehensive guidance on practice and policies that can be applied within Secure Children's Homes.

Phil Dennett's report however, does not benchmark against anything other than his own perspective. He does not mention any external practices and polices, research, evidence based practice, he does not even consider the recommendations made by Lord or the practice guidance developed by the Secure Accommodation Network (which is made up of all of the Secure Children's Home in the UK). I had provided the States of Jersey with all of this information.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Ah but this is Jersey!

We have a world class service and led by strong management.

Anonymous said...

is that the sound of hollow laughter that I hear ?

Anonymous said...

No it's the sound of Anton Skinner counting his wages from Focus Mental Health!