Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Blame and compensation

The BBC reports that the former Director of Children’s Services at Haringey Council, Sharon Shoesmith, is to be paid a six-figure sum in compensation for wrongful dismissal following the Baby Peter tragedy in 2008. This news follows a court ruling in 2011 that she was unfairly sacked.

Add that sum to all the legal fees that will have been incurred and add that to the costs of the sackings of other Haringey employees following Peter’s death. We are talking millions.

A rush to point the finger of blame following the death of Baby Peter Connelly has now cost the taxpayer a fortune and nothing has been achieved. No child is safer as a result.

Rushing to blame people is always negative. If all the money spent on disciplining employees had been spent on improving services and enhancing safety, the outcome would have been constructive. As it is, lots of time and money have been expended, with the main result being that a culture of blame is propagated and reinforced.

That makes professionals more defensive. Not unreasonably they will look to protecting their own backs, not to being open and constructive about service failures. That makes it even more difficult for organisations to deliver safe children’s services in Britain.