Saturday, 15 November 2008

'Baby P', 'Responsibility' and what it means in 21st century Britain

Hasn't it been a depressing week? We know that we are in some kind of recession. Redundancies are happening all around us but the bankers who largely contributed to all this are still getting their bonuses. No sense of responsibility there.

Then we come to the appalling case of little Baby P. I wasn't going to write about this as I thought that there was enough in the newspapers and on the airwaves but you can't get away from it. There's something utterly Dickensian about it and how the virtuous and arrogant woman in charge of affairs can so blithely wash her hands of the whole event. The blame lies with the mother and the boyfriend and the lodger, all of whom were complicit. But the authorities knew, had evidence, that the child was the subject of the most awful abuse. He was visited sixty times. How many times does a child have to be visited before the file is flagged up with the obvious question: "When do we take him into care?"

'Care'. That's a great word in this country. Just like their mantra of 'care in the community.' It's basically a reason not to do anything at all so that someone take responsibility. It's a way in which the buck can be passed from one department to another; from one 'care worker' to another, so that no one actually is in possession of any kind of responsibility to another human being.

It has left me with this empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know that this is, or hope that this is, an unusual case but somehow I don't think so. Letters had already been written to what had been perceived the 'right channels.' No one bothered to follow them up and the woman who was so disgusted with the way that Haringay Council was carrying out its remit vis a vis children was herself made a victim. We are living in a surreal world where everything is turned on its head and the concept of ultimate responsibilty has evaporated.

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