I keep gulping down deep sobs ever since I read Sara Ryan’s latest blog post yesterday. (https://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/oxon-classy-council/) It is the latest in the catalogue of shameful, deceitful, inhumane behaviour by the Authoritys involved in the death of LB. How can the State treat the people they are paid to serve with such utter contempt?
We had an experience back in 2008 of the sham of the “independent internal investigation”. It is nowhere near on the scale of what Sara’s family are going through but it alerted me to the depths Officialdom will sink to prevent the truth from being revealed.
This is a year before Steven was taken away. One day, with no notice at all, the council stopped the contract with the agency that were supplying Steven’s support workers. We weren’t allowed to be told “why” the contract had been cancelled – it was none of our business. Left without any support until the council found a new agency, Steven had to go to the positive behaviour unit four days a week whilst I was at work. He used to leave about 9am and return home late afternoon. One day, he came home and a couple of hours later we were visited by Whistlers Mother and her manager, both in a grave mood. They informed us that Steven had been assaulted that day in the Unit. He had been kicked three times on his leg and had a cup of coffee thrown over him. They informed us that the council would be starting an immediate investigation but would like Steven to continue to go to the Unit as a new agency had not yet been found. We agreed.
The lie had begun.
The following morning we took a call from the police. They had been called to the “incident” yesterday and the CPS was preparing to press charges. Then the bombshell. The assault had been carried out by a member of staff. We, led by the lack of information from the social worker, had assumed it had been another service user. Later, when Steven came home, I asked him and he confirmed that it was a member of the staff that he was very fond of. It seems that the incident was reported by two agency staff who were working that day. The assailant and the shift leader had tried to cover it. All the blame went onto Steven.
I phoned the Unit and they confirmed what I had been told. I phoned the social worker to remonstrate that we hadn’t been told the truth but all I got was some flimflam about “confidentiality” and “internal processes”. She confirmed that the internal investigation had already begun.
That was the last we ever heard about the internal investigation. Whoever led the investigation never spoke to Steven. He/she never spoke to us. We were told that under no circumstances were we to discuss the incident or investigation with any of the staff at the Unit. I guess at some point, the investigator reported his/her findings. We never got to see them, despite several requests. I had the thought at the time that the internal investigation was another lie – perhaps there wasn’t one. Whatever happened to the investigation, the needs/image of “the service” counted for everything and Steven, his family, even the innocent staff, counted for sod all.
Fortunately, we did discover what happened and the outcome because a greater authority than the council took matters further. The CPS did prosecute and I went to court for the one day trial. The judge was told who I was sitting at the back of the court and it felt like she was addressing most of her comments to me. The assailant’s evidence was a joke and he tried to paint himself as the victim and Steven as a dangerous predator. The Shift Leader turned up late, cockily swanned into court and was ripped to shreds by the judge. The two agency workers coped brilliantly under the most awful intimidation. One of the agency workers was still working in the Unit when Steven was there 18 months later. He confided in one of Steven’s regular workers that his life was made hell during those months between the assault and the trial, from all quarters (Say no more). Neither the social worker, nor any senior staff from the Unit attended the trial. It was like it had nothing to do with Hillingdon at all. He was found guilty of assault. I missed the sentencing hearing, so never found out what happened.
But the point is, if it had been left to the council to investigate their dirty linen, nothing whatsoever would have happened.