At long last Manx Radio has caught up with the story. This morning’s report about the huge amount of over-referrals in the Department of Social Care was overdue. Mr Llewellyn-Jones’ statement was clear and concise. With over 900 referrals and around 1000 births per year, statistically seen every child could be netted into the system at some point. The vast majority of these referrals are not followed up. In other words, this is unnecessary and therefore undesirable intervention. The result of this crazy system, which has necessitated importing social workers at high cost to the taxpayer, appears to be that they are wasting their time investigating non-existent cases and this could result in their overlooking the real and possibly serious cases.
Mr Robertshaw’s stance seems to be that he inherited the catastrophic system and pulling the plug risks overlooking a serious case of a child in need of ss intervention, but surely that is exactly the issue with the present system. The over-referrals could lead to overworked social workers missing the crucial case. Therefore, I would suggest that Mr Robertshaw’s claim does not really hold water.
However, this costly and intrusive practice has surely raised a pressing point. If Mr Robertshaw did not introduce the measures, and it seems highly unlikely that they were the brainchild of his predecessor, then who did? Despite assurances from the government that the public’s view on Every Child Matters had been noted and that no database would be introduced, both the ECM policy and a database were introduced – without public notification. The ‘new working practices’ which prompted Martyn Quayle to request around half a million pounds a couple of years ago, were seemingly based on Every Child Matters and a database was put in place without a word to the public.
We are being told that this was all a fait accompli? Somehow, without anyone’s knowledge, the entire system was put into place. A system which has cost the taxpayer dearly, while cuts have been made in the education department. Someone, somewhere was responsible for pushing this agenda – and it is essential we discover how this system really works. Mr Robertshaw did not disclose the situation in his department, until questioned, and now continues to make lame excuses for the continuance of the costly chaos there. Who is really behind this? Where did the directive come from? If we do not succeed in uncovering how this situation arose then we leave ourselves open for further underhanded situations. And where will it end?
The procedures should be changed forthwith and those responsible held accountable – whoever they may be.