Friday, 9 May 2008

My Story - Part 5 (The day I blew the whistle)

On Wednesday I wrote about the recruitment issues, yesterday I wrote about what can only be described as a re-introduction of one element of the grandprix system.

After reading through some paperwork last night I came across the following extracts from statements that staff had made in January and February 2007, as part of the investigation into my complaint.

"That three day system [referring to the pits in the grandprix system] was no longer happening, although young people could still spend the first 24 hours in their room..."

"SB [Simon Bellwood] was in the UK the following day and JK [Joe Kennedy] came in and changed everything SB had been doing. JK took over, took XX [young person] out of the classroom and locked him up, that was the beginning of things.

"It was as if [JK] was canvassing staff for evidence against SB."

"During the first meeting with Joe Kennedy and Phil Dennett staff were told that it was acceptable to lock a young person in their room for the first 24 hours after their admission or if they displayed poor behaviour. But during the second staff meeting there appeared to be some changes regarding locking young people in their rooms".

"Phil Dennett also told staff they were to use their own discretion regarding the 24-hour in room policy after admission, allowing more flexibility depending on the young person".

I thought I would share these with you as they further evidence the re-emergance of the grandprix system, albeit not in name but certainly in philosphy.

I submitted my complaint on 2nd Jnaury 2007. I left work that day at 1pm to go to the Doctor to get signed off work. I could no longer cope with Joe Kennedy and his side kick Phil Dennett.

I was very emotional, I telephoned Marnie Baudains, Directorate Manager of Social Services, in tears, to inform her that I wanted to see her to submit a complaint.

I visited her that afternoon, I also visited Mike Pollard, Chief Executive of Health and Social Services to submit the complaint to them both.

I will speak about these two individuals in a later blog as they need and deserve blogs all of their own!

I have attached my original Serious Concerns complaint in full below. For clarity, the Serious Concerns Policy which I used to submit this complaint is more widely known as the Whistleblowing policy; hence the name - The Whistleblower.

Jersey JE3 XXX
Tel. 07797 XXXXXX
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


Anonymous said...

I hope all the people mentioned will be made accountable for their actions when we have this "independent"review.Keep strong.

Anonymous said...

The JEP is quoting Bailhache's shameless use of the word "remorseless," speaking not in regards to the child abuse and care scandals, but to describe the outside press!

Isn't that consistent with suspicions that what happened to you is all part of an entrenched, systematic Jersey political philosophy of avoiding all scrutiny?

This dark rot flows through all levels of the system as seen clearly in the written evidence you have laid out. It is clearly a form of third world style patronism which depends upon absolute certainty that no one will even try to expose anything unflattering.

What the establishment cannot ever forgive you or Stuart for is the brighter sunlight now shining upon their darkest corners. Your exposures, forcing open windows to a closed world are downright revolutionary.

They might have prevented so much of Jersey's humiliation by appearing to be just a wee bit humble, and avoided much of their own ugly self exposure had they honestly looked at themselves in the mirror.

The ironic enemy of the corrupt elite in famously fair weathered Jersey now seems to be the bright sunlight.

Anonymous said...

Grand Prix is just another name for
Pindown, the following is taken from Wikepedia.

Pindown was a method of discipline used in children's homes in Staffordshire in the 1980's
Pindown was named after the notion
that it would "pindown the problem" relating to a particular "difficult" child.

It involved locking children
in rooms called "pindown rooms", sometimes for periods of weeks or months.

An inquiry into the practice, "The Pindown Inquiry" held in 1990/1991
by Allan Levy QC. It took 75 days of evidence from 153 witnesses and examined 150,000 pages of documents including 400 log books of events in children's homes. A 300page report was produced after almost a year.

The report's findings were that the practice was decidedly outside
anything that could be considered as good child care practice. In the view of the inquiry it was unethical, unprofessional and unacceptable practice, and unlawful.

Levy A, AND Kahan .B.(1991) "The Pindown Experience and the Protection of Children; The Report of the Staffordshire Child Care Inquiry"