Sunday, 27 April 2008

A comment for ex social worker to respond to.

I have just been left this comment and whilst I have published it on my blog along with the other comments I also wanted to list it here as a separate post.

I have done this for two reasons. Firstly, I am aware that the person whom this comment relates is reading my blogs and is therefore likely to comment in response, and secondly, this demonstrates how the senior civil servants operate in order to suppress complaints, close rank and demonise those people who have left or have been sacked, this is done in order to protect themselves and hide their own incompetancies and inadequacies.

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Reply to comments":

when the previous respondent left after seven days staff were told it was because he was having difficulty in arranging child careprovision,that he wanted to work flexi-time and this was not possible.

Nothing about the real reason for leaving,many including myself had no knowledge of the Grand Prix system.

By the way flexi-time is now operating ."

If either the 'previous respondant' or the author of this comment make further comments, which I hope they do, I will keep readers posted. I have also attachd the 'previous respondants' comments below so that you can understand the context of this post.

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Reply to comments":

Hi Simon,I will explain to readers that I was a uk social worker who came to work for the Jersey Social services as child protection social worker.

Prior to coming to Jersey I was a senior manager in childrens services in the UK with nearly 20 yrs experience. After 7 working days in Jersey I resigned.

This partly due to the procedures I discovered were in operation at the greenfields secure unit for children. This on its own would not have been sufficient for me to resign but it was this, combined with other features, which led me to believe that social work practice in jersey was unsafe.

Firstly though I can confirm Simons verson of events with regard to the Grand Prix system was in place and abusive to children. Secondly that upon induction to the unit children were routinely isolated and put into bleak cells for 24hrs.

This process was not based upon any threat or risk the young person may pose to themselves or others.Some of these children, as young as 10, would be in the unit for "welfare reasons" and not as a result of criminal behaviour but the process would remain the same.

The process would be abusive for either group of children in the UK, but I could see a warped argument to implement the procedure for young offenders but I would not condone it!

After discovering the above (plus lots of other bits which I will save for another day)I discussed my findings with other memebers of the Social Work team who said they were aware of the situation at the unit and expressed their dissatisfaction but nothing had changed. They also expressed their fear that if they compliained too loudly they may get the sack. They also explained that they believed if they complained it may lead to them " never work in jersey again".( they had other issues as well but too long to go into now )

Before I left Jersey, my manager asked me why I was leaving. I didn't wish to go into details as I had written a seven page letter to the chief exec detailing exactly why I was leaving and used the jersey whistle blower policy to do so. However I did say to my line manager that I had found practices at the childrens secure unit disturbing to say the least.

Their response surprised me in that they said " what goes on at the secure unit is not my responsibility". Considering my manager was a "child protection" manager their view that their responsibilty stopped at the front door of the secure unit was a tad shocking.

I kind of expected the response "tell me more and if its serious we will see if we can sort it out/investigate/ talk to unit managers etc".I had already made my decision to leave by mow but this was the icing on the cake!

The failure of one part of the Jersey child care system to want to tackle the inadequacies of performance of other related departments is one of the reasens that child abuse in childrens homes has been allowed to go undetected for so long. My experiences were in the past 3 years.

Not along time ago.The response from the chief execs dept was predictable. They informed me they had fully investigated my concerns and that I did " not understand the policy and culture of the island". By now I think I had fully grasped the culture of the child care system in jersey which was " dont rock the boat or else" and that the some of the policies were abusive to children.

Several months after my departure form jersey I was contacted by Simon Bellwood. Although mine and Simons time in Jersey had crossed we didnt meet at the time.

Simon informed me had been the manager at the secure unit and tried to end the abusive childcare practices, which I had been informed by Chief Execs dept, were a figment of my imagination and lack of knowledge about Jersey social work culture/policies etc.

Simon also told me that the govt investigation into my concerns went as follows.Simon received a telephone call that went."who did that new social worker talk to when he was shown round the unit?"Simon replied " I dont know"

That is the sum total of a an internal extensive investigation into abusive child care in jersey by the jersey govt.So baring in mind the Jersey govt superb internal investigative qualities, imagine how it must feel for children in jersy who comlpained about their treatment in childrens homes over the past decades.

I hope they got more than a telephone call to the manager of the home where thay were being abused but I suspect not.I firmly believed Simon was dismissed for trying to expose the process which resulted in children being abused whilst in the govts care.

If I had stayed in Jersey I believe I would have sufferd the same fate. The information so far is just one part of my story which could go on but I dont want to identify the staff who gave me even more information confirming what I believe to be potential systemic failings in the jersey child protection system.

I think what Simon has acheived is fantastic but it has probalby been at a great personal cost,both emotional and fiancial. I will write more if people are interested and i am particularly keen to talk about what the Jersey govt needs to do to put things right for the future.

The answers are pretty simple but i wll leave those for another day!"

My Story - Part 2

Sorry for the delay in posting a further blog.

I would like to continue telling my story, but first, the following comment was posted the other day and the system , or I, lost it. I have pasted it here for you all to read.

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Senator Stuart Syvret...My views 2":

I heard about your blog and i am well aware of your situation Simon and can easily imagine what happened at Greenfields secure centre.I noticed your 'attention readers' and would like to give your readers my opinion.I was aware of the admission procedure before you were employed.

I remember a staff commenting on a 13 yr old female being put into a cell for 24 hours as a short sharp shock. All of the teenagers on remand did used to have the solitary confinement. It appears to me that some staff and management must be suffering denial.

Apparently you changed all that when you were manager of the new Greenfields building and banned the 24 hours.Your manager's decided to over ride your system when you were off work.Bringing back the old 24 hour in cell system.Your were never allowed back to work there.

Within a week they had reintroduced your system.

Q.What did that tell the staff?
A.That you were right all along and knew exactly what you were doing.

You have a big story to tell.Go ahead and tell us.Many of the ex residents, thir family,teachers, professional visitors, current staff and ex staff must have questioned so much? As for the staff.They are dedicated to doing the best they can for the children, but have been let down by the system as well."

I would like to say thank you to the author of this comment, it is not an easy thing to do, the climate of fear prevents people from speaking out. To help remind the staff of the fear that they should feel, they further reinforced it - by sacking me after I blew the whistle.

I would like to encourage more people to write in. I am happy for anyone who has information which may agree of disagree with my views. I will publish them in order to offer a balanced view for all the readers.

As mentioned previously, I removed the Grand Prix system on 8th October 2006. This was welcomed by some and criticised by others. I introduced a new system, one based on rewarding positive behaviour and empowering young people to make the right decisions for themselves, as opposed to a system designed to ensure compliance through fear; through fear of the consequences should they make the wrong decisions.

I would like to point out that although dubbed 'my' system, this was in fact adopted from my previous secure children's home that I managed in UK. This had been developed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, music therapist, social workers, staff and young people. It had been subjected to scrutiny of inspectors and the Secure Accommodation Network (which is made up of all managers from the 24 secure children's homes in the UK).

In affect, it was not 'my' system, it was a tried and tested system that had been used for a number of years in the UK. More importantly, it was lawful - the grandprix system was not.

Rather than hearing just my perspective I have decided to list below some extracts which staff within Greenfields have made as part of their statements during the subsequent investigations into my complaints

The following extracts provide information which I feel suggests that the philosophy and ethos behind the Grand Prix system is one based on ‘control and punishment’ and not ‘care and control’.

Quote from XX Statement to XX

“The management programme that SB introduced gave us no control over the young people.”

Quote from XX Statement to XX

“In the absence of SB. XX is helping support the running of Greenfields. XX suspended SB’s policy…The current policy is an incentive scheme similar to the Grand Prix system which the children can easily understand”.

Quote from XX Statement to XX

Heathfield is not run under UK legislation…”.

“XX explained that a literal interpretation of care standards [UK mandatory practice standards] was applied to an establishment in Jersey the UK inspectors could close the place down immediately based on occupancy levels and material standards of the buildings”.

Quote from XX to XX

“SB was confused. XX asked him what he had been told. SB replied that he had been told there would be no community meetings and that 24 hours exclusion had been reintroduced for disruptive residents”.

Quote from XX Statement to XX

“He (SB) gave her new policies and documents, including his new behaviour system. She also saw him give this to XX and XX in the old building and witnessed both virtually dismiss it and hand it back saying it was too complicated to read at that time”

“SB’s behaviour programme was a points system, incentive based, with young people taking responsibility and earning points. Some staff who were used to the old system found this rather hard. The old system was very different with staff being able to deal with things by locking up the young people. The new system was not about locking up, but about dealing with behavioural issues. People were struggling to come to terms with it, but on the whole some good work was being done and the young people were, starting to get the message as numbers built up. XX said it was utter chaos, but XX [previous manager] disagreed”.

“The systems have now completely changed. The new system is no longer called the Grand Prix, but the only change to that system is that they no longer have ‘the pits’. If the young person transgressed under the Grand Prix system they were put in the pits for three days and locked up. The first 24 hours they were locked within the secure area and were educated and ate in that area. It was a very primitive way of dealing with things”.

“That three day system is no longer happening, although young people could still spend their first 24 hours in their room being assessed and XX had no problem with that. Now there are three days on Level 1, seven on Level 2 then moving to Level 3. but the young people who had worked with the SB’s points programme preferred that because they felt that they were able to earn points themselves by their behaviour.”

“SB was in the UK the following day and XX came in and changed everything SB had been doing. XX took over, took XX (young person) out of the classroom and locked him up, that was the beginning of things”.

Quote from XX Statement to XX

“XX (not SB) would not allow the staff to be disrespected by the residents in any circumstances”.

Quote from XX Statement to XX

“SB seemed to find our behaviour system dated and wanted to implement his own behaviour system once they were in the new building, this may well have been his downfall”.

“XX felt that as a manager SB was honest, knowledgeable, very confident, but approachable. He was very child centred, and it was the first time that they had seen somebody with such a child friendly approach, most staff were positive about SB’s new behaviour system. They all thought that they were going to move forward with the childcare that they provide, complying with what the children’s service were striving towards after Kathy Bull’s report.”

“SB’s ideas about childcare were not to confine the young people, unless they posed a danger. To provide the staff with the training they require and guide them in helping young people to improve their behaviour and make better choices. XX thought that some of the staff did not really understand what they could and couldn’t do. SB reiterated at regular staff meetings the operation of the behaviour system he had implemented and reminded staff that his system was designed to be used with TCI, the therapeutic behaviour management system that all the staff had all qualified in, most staff have used this for three years or more. XX specifically recalled SB saying to staff that he appreciated that whilst he ‘understood his behaviour system really well as he had worked with it for a long time, he wanted to help anyone who didn’t understand the system’. It has to be said that the young people who were resident at the time didn’t have any problems with the system and enjoyed the way it worked”.

“Some staff thought SB’s system too soft on the young people, with too much mediation and conversation taking place. They were used to having a different kind of control with the ‘Grand Prix’ system, thinking that a remand centre should be disciplined. Both systems could work well, but perhaps they just highlight the difference of thought between a ‘prison officer’ background and a ‘social worker’ background”.

“In the old building under the old system young people were often placed into a cell for 3 days known as ‘in the pits’ due to their behaviour. On several occasions young people would spend a lot longer confined from the rest of the group. This form of punishment was long standing at Greenfields.”

“They (XX and XX [previous managers responsible for unit]) then returned to the ‘Grand Prix ‘system, but with a few adjustments and called it the ‘new behaviour system’ with levels 1, 2 &3”.

During the first (Team) meeting (after SB had gone) with XX and XX 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 meeting there appeared to be some changes regarding locking young people in their rooms. XX also told staff they were to use their discretion regarding the 24-hour in room policy after admission, allowing more flexibility depending on the young person”.

“XX stated that up until Christmas there was now a very divided culture, XX and XX in one office in the building next door and with SB in his office. XX was not aware of any one particular incident that had caused this division, but it appeared to become worse after the interview process and that they both had differing opinions on disciplining young people”.

In addition to these statements I have taken the following from Greenfields centre Team Meeting Minutes dated 3 January 2007

“XX [senior manager in charge] explained that the Unit will be dealing with remand, welfare, sentencing + detox cases and therefore we cannot follow UK regs straight down the line. XX explained that we are going to take onboard the UK standards + Jersey will adapt them”.

“XX highlighted that we were meant to be achieving UK standards in child care in Jersey. XX explained that all policies will be adapted to suit our req’s in Jersey”.

“XX expressed he still cannot understand why SB would continue to implement UK laws etc. If he has been told this wasn’t the case why would he continue to do so?”

“XX replied that him self and XX will be putting routines into place, addressing the 24 hr in bedroom + that process”.

“XX expressed he wants the behaviour of YP to adhere to respectful towards staff + this is to be the framework to work towards. XX said he will not accept staff being sworn at + spoken to in a detrimental manner. XX wants us to respond to a YP as we would have before, a YP can be given the option to rectify their behaviour or they can be removed to their rooms + locked in”.

The following are extracts taken from Greenfields centre Team Meeting Minutes dated 10 January 2007

“…XX gave information on what they should have. YP should not be bringing in or out of G/F [Greenfields] extra clothes. XX said 2 full set of clothes.”

“…it should make us think about how we react to them appropriately. XX reminded us that child care is essential but to remember they are here for a reason”.

Now that you have read these extracts, the views of other's, not me, what can we conclude?

For me it is simple, either I am wrong and the senior civil servants are right or I am right and they are wrong. There is no alternative option - someone is wrong, is it me or them?

I would invite comments at this stage to guide me further. Tomorrow I will post some more information about the Grandprix system and the investigation that followed.