Monday, 2 June 2008

Commentary on Phil Dennett's report - Section 5 to the end

My apologies for not posting a blog recently I have been too exhausted with other commitments.

Anyway, back on task now, I have had a further look at Phil Dennett's report and I do not feel that the interviews that Phil Dennett conducted with staff merit any discussion here, it is all hear say, personal opinion and not worth bothering to comment upon - there is no external framework of reference so it has no evidential value in such an investigation.

Readers will draw their own conclusions and that is their personal choice, all I urge is that people research beyond what Phil Dennetts and Simon Bellwood suggest and look at research findings and evidence based practice - outside of Jersey.

On this point, the interesting thing about Phil Dennett's report is that he makes no reference to any standards. No reference to UK guidance, no evidence based practice, no Secure Accommodation Network guidance etc etc, why not?

Don't get me wrong, he did probably look for some though.

I decided to look at this in more detail, it got me thinking about how Phil Dennett, the man paid over £80K per year to look after some of the islands most vulnerable young people, would have tackled such an investigation.

I decided the best way to do this would be to put myself in his shoes, the first thing I did was a google search.

I started off with "secure children's home best practice guidance", however, this was like trying to prove that a chocolate teapot was a good idea.

Then I tried "Jersey's guide on how to run a secure children's home", this didn't work either as the results seemed to suggest that there was no such thing.

So, after some consideration I finally resorted to, "How to investigate the use of solitary confinement for young people, make it sound like best practice and get myself out of the shit".

Anyway, I digress, back to his report.

Section 8.4 of Phil Dennett's report states that none of the three staff that he interviewed found anything 'abusive' about either regime [The Grandprix system and the system in place in January 2007].

I do not wish to belittle the three staff involved but in the context of the investigation I would like to ask these staff if they are happy to be known as 'not having a problem with locking up children in solitary confinement', that's vulnerable children in solitary confinement - not sentenced criminal children?

I know this sounds harsh but if the whole subject was not so shockingly abusive then I would find it hilarious that Phil Dennett, the man who is paid a lot taxpayers money, would rely on the opinion of three staff who are not professionally qualified child care workers, three staff who have no experience of childcare services outside of Jersey, people who have never worked in a secure establishment anywhere other than Greenfields.

If Phil Dennett considered that these three staff members opinions were so valid then why would he have not also considered the opinion of the Secure Accommodation Network Why would he have chosen not to contact the lead inspector of secure children's homes in the UK, who works for Ofsted, whose role is to inspect the whole of the UK's secure children's homes - I gave the mobile telephone number of this inspector, with her consent, to Marnie Baudains, and I know that no one, absolutely no one from the States of Jersey telephoned her.

Why did he not contact the Howard League for Penal Reform

Why did he not make reference to the published report written by Lord Carlile into the use of Physical Restraint, Solitary Confinement and Strip Searching in the Secure Estate which was published in January 2006 just a year before his investigation into the use of solitary confinement in a secure children's home?

His references to the opinion of three members of staff which could never be considered as a specialists - I am confused.

To help with my confusion I tried once more to put myself in his shoes, I googled, "How to investigate the use of solitary confinement for young people, make it sound like best practice and get myself out of the shit".

Then I had my answer - it was that simple.

What would have happened if Phil Dennett had one scrap of being an ethically bound social worker, one ounce of integrity - he would have declared that the Grandprix system was abusive.

The result,

Joe Kennedy would have been sacked.

Joe Kennedy would the have said, "Hold on a minute, I improved the practices - at least I stopped the magistrates ordering vulnerable young people to be locked in solitary confinement as they did before I arrived".

The magistrates would say, "Hold on a minute, we did order vulnerable young people to be locked in solitary confinement but then who is in charge of us...???"

Again I digress, section 9.1 of his report makes reference to an admissions procedure which [Phil Dennett] uses in an attempt to undermine the procedure introduced by me, one which incidentally is used throughout the UK and only it remains that only Jersey uses solitary confinement as part of an admissions procedure to secure accommodation.

On this point, if the procedure introduced by me was so awful then why is the procedure they follow now the same as mine.

No longer do they lock children in solitary confinement as part of their introduction to Greenfields.

Although the management still tell staff that all young people must shower in the admissions area (assuming that they are unclean and washing away any scrap of dignity that they may have)?

The rest of Phil Dennett's report is rather dull, it's constant reference to people's views that don't matter and no external benchmarking and referencing make it a complete Joke.

There are references to the reduction in the use of solitary confinement under Joe Kennedy's management - they did not record solitary confinement unless it was in the secure cells, or the Pits as it was known.

There was no recording of solitary confinement when it was done in bedrooms. These occurred daily, as an example, every day each young person after school was locked in their room for an hour, even with impeccable behaviour, this was all part of the routine. I stopped this, no reference from Phil Dennett though!

His report also makes reference to the Board of Visitors. These people reviewed no paperwork, attended no reviews, had no formal procedures to follow etc etc.

The most significant point with regard to this Board of Visitors is that if they were so good, so reliable to make reference to in a report that was used to dismiss me, why then, if the Board of Visitors was there to protect young people and ensure that their welfare was paramount, why did they not speak up about the Grandprix system and stop it when they inspected every month?

The report also refers to a set of policies which Joe Kennedy had purchased in the summer of 2006. Joe Kennedy had given me a CD rom and asked me to implement the policies across the residential service in September 2006.

Initially I accepted but then a few weeks later I asked Joe Kennedy to take the responsibility of the service wide policies back as I had too much to do completing my own job.

I was happy to develop policies for Greenfields but not do his job as well as my own.

He had been in post for over 3 years so he should actually have already put policies in place across the service.

Phil Dennett has always tried to lay blame on me for the lack of policies, I was there for just over four months and in that time, I worked over 70 hours per week and I was not able to develop the policies, in such a short period of time - the same policies that Joe Kennedy had failed to put in place for 3 years. Of course this was my fault though!

The interesting point about the reference to policies is that Phil Dennetts report states,

"Following Mr Kennedy's intervention, these policies are now in place..."

Team meeting minutes cite that Mr Kennedy introduced these policies in the weeks following my complaint being submitted, which was 2nd January 2007.

Despite these dates, Linda Dodds' report makes a similar reference as follows;

"There appears to be a high level of care with extensive policies and procedures underpinning the high standards set".

Her report was done in mid January 2007. This was one week after the policies had been written.

Her report was to look into current and previous practice - surely one would not make reference to 'extensive polices' when they were knowingly created after a complaint had been submitted - the very complaint you are investigating. Perhaps this is what is known as the process of 'Jersification' which Phil Dennett has referred to in team meeting minutes?

The best bit for me though is Phil Dennett's most recent submission.

He has stated to professor Upex (who has been commissioned following my employment tribunal to investigate the circumstances surrounding my employment and subsequent dismissal) that with the 'benefit of hindsight' it was not appropriate for him to be involved in the investigation into my complaint.

Can I say that again, Phil Dennet has stated that, with the benefit of hindsight, he does not think that it was appropriate for him to be involved in the investigation.


So Phil, if you have now got the benefit of hindsight do everyone a favour and resign with immediate affect so that you don't screw up anymore lives or fail to protect anymore children.

One final thing on Phil Dennett's report, I know I have mentioned it in a previous blog post but I want to write one more time the last paragraph of his report.

Why do I want to do this - because this statement is going to come back and haunt him.

For the record Phil Dennett stated,

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