Friday, 27 May 2011

Sharon Shoesmith wins her appeal against sacking

I don't have any torch to carry for Sharon Shoesmith. I don't even know her. But I can't help feeling relieved at the finding of the Court of Appeal today that she was unlawfully dismissed from her position as Director of Children's Services in Haringey.

This judgement sends an important message to all concerned. In the wake of a child protection tragedy the only thing to be gained from pursuing and blaming individuals is short-term publicity and tactical political advantage. It does nothing to improve the safety and welfare of children. Much more important is to focus on the organisational and systematic factors which have created the conditions in which disasters occur and how individuals interact with them.

The blame culture not only results in the absurdity of sacking people only to have to compensate them later for not treating them fairly. More importantly, it nurtures a climate in which people are unwilling to admit to failings and errors. As a result failings in practice and procedure go unreported and that makes children less safe.