Monday, June 26, 2006

Be very afraid (a long post)

I quite honestly could not believe what I was reading when I saw this front-page article in today's DT.

In the wake of the inquiry into Victoria Climbie's death, which revealed staggering levels of incompetence and buck-passing by the various organisations who were supposed to be protecting her, the Government, on typical knee-jerking, sledgehammer-to-a-nut form, introduced the Children Act 2004 . Under the Act, each children's services authority in England must make arrangements to promote cooperation between various agencies in order to "improve the well-being of children" in the following areas (see Part 2, clause 10):

(a) physical and metal health and emotional well-being;
(b) protection from harm and neglect;
(c) education, training and recreation;
(d) the contribution made by them to society
(e) social and economic well-being.

Hello? Since when did all of these aspects of a child's life concern the State? Is it really a matter for the State to decide whether little Johnny is giving enough to society, or whether little Jack is happy enough? If the Climbie case proved anything, it merely highlighted just how incompetent the state is in dealing with a genuine case of neglect, resulting in the tragic and unnecessary death of an 8 year old girl. So why on earth is the Government seeking to give these interfering, useless busybodies even more responsibility when they have so manifestly failed to carry out their existing duties?

Even scarier, under Part 2, clause 12 of this Act, social workers have been given power to create a database tracking all children in England and Wales from birth. Not only is it specified that this database should have information recording a child's personal details, school and doctor, but clause 12(4)(g) has the pretty outrageous catch-all enabling " information as to the existence of any cause for concern in relation to him" to be included on the database.

Excuse me, but this terrifies me. This is so widely drafted that it could include anything (including, for example, irate middle class parents voicing their objections to their child being included on the database: sounds suspicious to me, surely they must have something to hide?!).

According to the DT's article, other information which could be included on this database will even include details of parents' mental health, whether their children are getting 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and even ridiculously subjective statements, such as how good a role model a for the child its parents are providing.

2 flags on a child's file will trigger an investigation into that child's welfare. Given the various authorities' stunning performance on the Climbie case, this is reassuring. Where this is really leading is to law-abiding families being victimised for not eating enough fruit and for the real child abusers who are not in the system to carry on with impunity.

The DT Leader today started with the sentence "It ought to go without saying that parents are, in general, the best possible guardians of their children's welfare". Sadly, this is not obvious to our various so-called welfare agencies, many of whom I suspect would rather children were handed over to the State at birth, as parents just cannot be trusted to tow the Government's line on what is best for them.

I am deeply worried about this new development, which is not just a signal that the nanny state is going mad, but that it has well and truly lost the plot. This is yet another example of Labour's ever more psychotic programme of intrusion into our lives and must be nipped in the bud. I hope the Tories take note and give this new database the mauling it deserves.

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