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   Pages 1 to 22




1



1 Thursday, 11th July 2002

2 (9.15 am)

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Good morning. (Pause).

4 I do not know whether you can hear me ladies and

5 gentlemen, but the amplification system has crashed as

6 you may have realised. Serendipity. It may take

7 a little while to get it sorted so I think it better

8 that we withdraw.

9 (A short break)

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Good morning everyone. Thank you very much

11 for sorting out that problem. We will proceed to the

12 final submissions. Can I just say that the smallness of

13 the numbers is not licence to exceed the time limit and

14 although my reputation for reading the clock is somewhat

15 tarnished, I have been practising overnight.

16 Miss Lawson.

17 MISS LAWSON: Once more unto the breach. 9.24 am.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.

19 Closing submissions by MISS LAWSON

20 MISS LAWSON: Sir, these submissions are of course

21 supplemental to our original oral and written

22 submissions and will be amplified as to detail in the

23 further written submissions which Haringey intends to

24 make. Phase I of the Inquiry has been reopened to look

25 at the Internal Review report which Haringey was




2



1 disappointed not to receive until after it had been

2 submitted to this Inquiry. Whatever its value as a tool

3 for improving the internal governance of the SSI or

4 Audit Commission may be, it is our submission that it is

5 of very little, if any, assistance to you in your task

6 for the following reasons.

7 Firstly, the work of the Internal Review has not

8 significantly undermined the evidential findings of the

9 Joint Review Report as to the state of the services. In

10 particular, there is no evidence whatever that Haringey

11 did not provide a representative case sample in

12 accordance with the Government's own methodology, or

13 that there was private, more critical feedback off the

14 state of the services.

15 Secondly, that the conclusions of the Internal

16 Review Report are less well evidenced than those of the

17 Joint Review. In fact, some of its conclusions as

18 represented in the reports to be based on fact turn out

19 on examination either to be speculation for which there

20 is no evidence, or based on observations which have been

21 taken out of context, and of course I am thinking

22 particularly of the comment about restructuring.

23 Thirdly, their conclusions frequently go beyond what

24 you were told were their terms of reference. Mr Prince

25 indeed at the end of his evidence, in answer to you,




3



1 said in effect that you should disregard their

2 conclusions about the state of services in Haringey.

3 Whether there are two Joint Review Reports or, as is

4 suggested, one, it is our strong submission to you that

5 you should unhesitatingly prefer the one that was done

6 at the time by those who had a feel for the evidence

7 that they were collecting.

8 Mr Simpson was careful, knew his own fieldwork and

9 was able to support -- [Amplification system failure]

10 THE CHAIRMAN: I am sorry, this is very unfair to you.

11 MISS LAWSON: As long as we agree I have only had one minute

12 30 seconds, I do not mind.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Absolutely. I am sorry. The system was only

14 geared for 62 days.

15 MISS LAWSON: I thought you were going to say it cannot cope

16 with my explosive style of advocacy. (Pause).

17 Sir I had made my fourth point which was that

18 Mr Simpson was careful, he knew his own fieldwork and

19 was able to support all his findings by evidence, as

20 indeed was Miss Tyrrell, both of whom were able to point

21 specifically to passages in which their conclusions were

22 supported.

23 The overall conclusion, that of the Internal Review,

24 was that to the general reader the report may have been

25 overly positive, but it was not overly positive as far




4



1 as Haringey were concerned, it was positive but they

2 were well aware of many of the failings and points that

3 were raised.

4 I therefore submit that the Internal Review Report

5 provides no basis -- [Amplification system failure]

6 THE CHAIRMAN: I am terribly sorry.

7 MR GARNHAM: It does occur to me that both Miss Lawson and

8 I are well used to keeping our voice up to fill court

9 without the use of amplification. The audience is

10 hardly enormous. I suspect we can do it with our own

11 voices, provided the stenographer and you can hear.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: That is fine by me and I do not want to put

13 Miss Lawson at a disadvantage at all. Miss Lawson, the

14 LiveNote is working very well and if you are willing to

15 carry on.

16 MISS LAWSON: Sir, as I say, I submit that the Internal

17 Review Report provides no basis whatsoever for

18 criticising Haringey during the early part of 1999. In

19 reopening this stage of Phase I Mr Garnham raised three

20 questions. What additional light, if any, does the new

21 material throw on the state of Haringey's Children's

22 Services? The answer in my submission is not a lot,

23 because it covered much familiar ground in this Inquiry,

24 but what it does tell us is, if anything, more positive

25 about the state of Children's Services, particularly in




5



1 North Tottenham, and particularly about the child

2 protection service than it was before, because that is

3 the evidence that these independent reviewers found when

4 they went there.

5 Mr Simpson gave you evidence about supervision in

6 the North Tottenham District Office and for your note it

7 is page 69 line 6 to 70 line 6 on the 9th July. At the

8 very least they provide a useful counterweight to some

9 of the more florid evidence that you have heard about

10 supervision in that office. Similarly the views that he

11 elicited about restructuring in North Tottenham are of

12 interest, that is the same day at pages 101 to 102.

13 There are general points made about the Children's

14 Services, about the One Stop Shops, about the preventive

15 work and so on which are going on, but if we concentrate

16 on child protection, which is what Victoria's case was

17 actually about, what do we find?

18 Miss Gray, who, it is accepted by both internal

19 reviewers, is the only person who was able to make any

20 comments at all upon the childcare service, had no

21 experience of joint reviews or to any appreciable extent

22 of doing SSI inspections herself, so it follows,

23 I submit, that she cannot have been selected to review

24 the methodology for that reason. She has her experience

25 in the field of child protection. She has reviewed the




6



1 evidence collected by the Joint Review Team, to see

2 whether there was anything which should have led the

3 Joint Review Team and therefore Haringey to conclude

4 that child protection practice in Haringey at that time

5 was unsafe.

6 Her conclusions, concurred in by Mr Prince and found

7 in paragraph 4 of the Internal Review Report, 45P/154,

8 are:

9 "We wish to stress that we have found nothing in the

10 work seen by the review team suggesting that there were

11 dangerous childcare practices in Haringey."

12 That is confirmed in the oral evidence by both

13 Miss Gray and also by Mr Simpson and that again on

14 9th July is at page 129 at line 1.

15 It is my submission that that is really the only

16 worthwhile conclusion of the Internal Review Report as

17 far as this Inquiry is concerned.

18 It is interesting that both Mr Simpson and

19 Miss Tyrrell referred in their evidence to a change

20 which took place after the work was carried out in

21 Haringey at the beginning of 1999. Mr Simpson towards

22 the very end of his evidence told you that the thing

23 that he had learned was how much and how rapidly

24 a situation can change in a short space of time.

25 Miss Tyrrell you will remember in her written




7



1 submissions said that she did not recognise the picture

2 painted by the SSI inspection the following year,

3 compared with the one that they had found when they did

4 the Joint Review.

5 Mr Garnham's second question was what does the

6 material suggest Haringey knew or ought to have known

7 about the state of its services? My submission is that

8 the material and evidence of Mr Simpson provides strong

9 support for what those responsible for the service, the

10 councillors and the senior managers have consistently

11 told you, namely that they did not accept that the

12 picture being painted with hindsight by some of the

13 staff in North Tottenham of the state of the Children's

14 Service in 1999 was accurate, based on their own

15 knowledge of what was happening on the ground, and they

16 told you about the numerous sources of information they

17 had which had not brought these sort of criticisms to

18 their attention.

19 Contrary to the suggestion repeatedly made to them

20 that what those staff were telling this Inquiry was to

21 be accepted, and that the senior managers and members

22 are to be criticised because they ought to have known

23 about it, we invite you to accept the evidence given to

24 you by Mr Simpson about what the members of the

25 Investigation and Assessment Team in North Tottenham




8



1 were saying to him about supervision, restructuring and

2 the availability of services for children in need or

3 care packages.

4 Haringey has not sought to suggest that there were

5 not areas such as case recording which needed

6 improvement and that there were procedures and systems

7 in place to try and address this. The same is true in

8 relation to the database and the flaws in the IT system,

9 about which you heard extensive evidence when we were

10 here before.

11 For the reasons which we have already given in

12 previous submissions and will take up in detail in

13 written submissions, we do not accept that Carol Wilson

14 or Haringey did not take steps to address the imbalance

15 in the workload between east and west and we say she

16 took them promptly, contrary to what was being

17 suggested.

18 As the witness statements made clear, the Inquiry

19 team has taken only negative extracts from the

20 reviewers' personal notebooks and sought to suggest by

21 that means that the state of services was worse than the

22 Joint Review suggested.

23 Many witnesses have challenged the accuracy of that

24 exercise in their written submissions and again it is

25 a matter I will come back to in the written submissions.




9



1 As an exercise, it seems to us valueless for

2 Haringey to extract all the positive points from the

3 notebooks and fieldwork and to ask why the Joint Review

4 Report was not more favourable. To go on from that

5 false basis to seek to criticise those responsible for

6 the state of service in the early months of 1999 is so

7 obviously unfair that we trust you will reject it out of

8 hand. Both the joint reviewers were impressed by the

9 Management Team and the Chair of the Social Services

10 Committee. They were impressed by the quality of the

11 position statement and by the detailed Management Action

12 Plan which responded in detail to all the issues of

13 criticism and concern that the Joint Review Report

14 identified.

15 Mr Simpson described them as having combed through

16 the report and picked up -- and he did not identify any

17 point which he had which was not picked up, and

18 proposals made to deal with the reality, whatever

19 suggestion is made to the contrary, is that Haringey

20 were not complacent when they got the report, and they

21 did not treat it as though they had been given a glowing

22 report and had no further worries.

23 That, we suggest, is the answer to Mr Garnham's

24 third question, namely, if the Joint Review ought to

25 have been more critically framed, would Haringey have




10



1 changed the way it dealt with cases like Victoria? The

2 answer is Haringey would have taken urgent action if it

3 had been given any indication at that time that there

4 were serious failings in its Children's Service which

5 needed to be addressed.

6 Whether it would have made any difference to

7 Victoria's case is entirely speculative, because, as we

8 have previously submitted, whatever the problems of

9 staffing or allocation in the North Tottenham District

10 Office, Victoria had an allocated social worker, even

11 though she was neither on the Child Protection Register

12 nor a looked after child. Her case was satisfied under

13 Section 47 as a possible child protection case.

14 The issue therefore about either children in need or

15 assessed or how do children get access to services if

16 they are not likely to need protection did not arise in

17 her case. She was plainly within Haringey's eligibility

18 criteria, however they were drawn, and no one has ever

19 sought to suggest otherwise.

20 The lack of a database or IT was of no relevance

21 because she had had no previous contact in Haringey.

22 There was nothing that was not picked up because of it.

23 Accordingly, Haringey emphatically rejects any

24 suggestion that there is any basis in this new material

25 for criticism of its members and officers.




11



1 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed Miss Lawson. We

2 got all that despite the technical difficulties.

3 MISS LAWSON: And in less than 15 minutes.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Garnham.

5 Closing submissions by MR GARNHAM

6 MR GARNHAM: Sir, as I indicated at the outset of these

7 reconvened hearings, the potential value of the evidence

8 placed before you when viewed in the context of your

9 terms of reference lies in the extent to which it may

10 cast further light on the manner in which Haringey's

11 Children's Services Department was performing during the

12 period 1999 to 2000.

13 I further indicated that it seemed to us that in

14 relation to that three matters in particular might merit

15 detailed consideration. The purpose of these

16 submissions is to outline, in the light of the evidence

17 that has been taken over the course of the last two

18 days, the potential conclusions open to you on those

19 issues.

20 First we invited you to consider the extent to which

21 the new material that has been submitted to the Inquiry

22 casts additional light on the state of Haringey's

23 Children's Services in 1999 prior to the receipt of the

24 new evidence. Virtually the only material before you as

25 to the state of those services in the months leading up




12



1 to Victoria's arrival in the borough was provided by the

2 Joint Review Report itself. As such, there was little

3 basis upon which you could go behind the conclusions

4 expressed in the report. That is no longer the

5 position.

6 You are now in a position to assess the conclusions

7 expressed in that report against the contemporaneous

8 evidence as recorded by the reviewers themselves, the

9 criticisms made in the Internal Review and the oral and

10 written evidence of the individuals concerned.

11 That exercise, were you minded to undertake it,

12 would enable you to reassess the weight that should be

13 attached to the conclusions of the Joint Review Report

14 insofar as it touches on Haringey's Children's Services.

15 When considering this issue we would submit that it

16 is important to remember that the evidence available to

17 Mr Prince and Miss Gray in conducting the Internal

18 Review was limited to that which had been collected by

19 the original Joint Review Team as set down in their

20 notebooks. No more or less came to be known about the

21 state of services following publication of the Joint

22 Review.

23 The issue is the extent to which that which was

24 known was properly interpreted and reflected in the

25 Joint Review Report.




13



1 It is with this question that Miss Gray's second

2 statement in particular is primarily concerned. She

3 identifies a number of potentially concerning aspects of

4 the services offered to children and families which in

5 her view were not adequately expressed in the Joint

6 Review. She draws attention in particular to the

7 implications of Haringey's comparatively low spend on

8 children and families, the high thresholds in place for

9 the provision of services and pressure felt by managers

10 quickly to close family support cases.

11 Viewed as a whole, this evidence suggested to her

12 that "Haringey were struggling to meet their statutory

13 responsibilities towards children and their families at

14 the time of the Joint Review inspection".

15 In her oral evidence Miss Gray pointed out that the

16 Internal Review had not sought to reach judgments about

17 the state of the services in 1999. However, first,

18 their review of the material available to the Joint

19 Review prompted her and her co-author to raise questions

20 about the state of those services.

21 Secondly, when asked to do so for the purposes of

22 this Inquiry, she did feel able on the basis of the

23 material she had seen to go somewhat further. You will

24 need to consider what she said against the limitations

25 of the review exercise on which she had been engaged.




14



1 On this subject, you will recall the very last

2 answer given by Mr Prince, to which reference has

3 already been made. He told you that if on reading the

4 Internal Review you came across any judgments about the

5 state of services in Haringey that were at variance with

6 those of the Joint Review, he would wish you to

7 disregard them.

8 That reflected his earlier evidence that the making

9 of such judgments was not part of the internal

10 reviewers' functions under their terms of reference. It

11 is plainly open to you to accept that and to accede to

12 his wish. Certainly the fact that he expressed such

13 a preference is likely to lead you to consider with some

14 care the judgments reached by both internal reviewers

15 and the joint reviewers. But it goes without saying

16 that you are not bound by Mr Prince's wishes.

17 You must decide in the light of all the evidence,

18 including in particular that of the internal reviewer

19 with specialist knowledge of childcare practice, what

20 weight to give all the expressions of opinion that you

21 heard about the state of childcare services in Haringey.

22 But ultimately it is your opinion that counts.

23 Although he does not go as far as Miss Gray, the

24 written and oral evidence of Dennis Simpson would seem

25 to go some way towards an acceptance of the proposition




15



1 that the Joint Review should have more clearly expressed

2 concerns about practice. At several points in his

3 statement Mr Simpson indicates that were he writing the

4 report today, he would have placed more emphasis on the

5 need for more consistency in the provision of services

6 along with the need to improve some services which had

7 fallen below an acceptable level.

8 Mr Simpson told you that the principal deficiency

9 with the Joint Review was that insufficient attention

10 was drawn at the start and the finish of the report to

11 practice deficiencies which were nonetheless

12 identifiable on a close reading of the body of the

13 report as a whole.

14 The existence and extent of practice issues of this

15 type was illustrated, he told you, by the Management

16 Action Plan drawn up by Haringey in response to the

17 Joint Review which contained 40 action points to address

18 deficiencies in practice in Children's Services.

19 The most detailed assessment of the state of

20 Children's Services in early 1999 from Haringey's

21 perspective has been provided by Carol Wilson. She

22 takes care to point out in her statement that there was

23 considerable room for improvement in the state of

24 Children's Services in Haringey in early 1999. There

25 was, she says, still a lot of work to be done.




16



1 Of the extracts from the joint reviewers' notebooks

2 on which she comments in her statement, those concerning

3 the lack of infrastructure, the delays in transferring

4 cases to Long Term Teams, the pressure felt by the North

5 Tottenham I&A; Team and the closure of family support

6 cases are all identified as broadly consistent with her

7 understanding of the state of the services at the time.

8 The findings of the Joint Review, she told you, did

9 not come as a surprise to her and reflected much of what

10 Haringey already knew as reflected, for example, in the

11 position statement.

12 She confirmed her view that, to adopt Mr Simpson's

13 phrase, a sackful of work remained to be done, but

14 invited you to conclude that Haringey's Children's

15 Services in early 1999 were successfully managing their

16 limited resources, developing their preventive services

17 and fulfilling their statutory obligations to children

18 and families.

19 In view of the lack of consensus as to the extent to

20 which the Joint Review requires revision, there are in

21 our submission two alternative conclusions open to you.

22 The first is that you have heard insufficient evidence

23 substantially to undermine the conclusions of the Joint

24 Review, so that it continues to represent the best

25 available evidence.




17



1 THE CHAIRMAN: Sorry Mr Garnham, we have lost LiveNote now.

2 MR GARNHAM: I will retrace the last sentence or two.

3 Ms Wilson confirmed her view that, to use Mr Simpson's

4 phrase, a sackful of work remained to be done but

5 invited you to conclude that Haringey's Social Services

6 in early 1999 were successfully managing their limited

7 resources, developing their preventive services and

8 fulfilling their statutory obligations to children and

9 families.

10 In view of the lack of consensus as to the extent to

11 which the Joint Review requires revision, there are in

12 our submission two alternative conclusions open to you.

13 The first is that you have heard insufficient

14 evidence substantially to undermine the conclusions of

15 the Joint Review, so that it continues to represent the

16 best available evidence as to the state of Haringey's

17 Children's Services in early 1999.

18 The second is that the revisions of some of the

19 Joint Review's judgments as expressed in the Internal

20 Review, and amplified in the evidence of Miss Gray, are

21 to be preferred, leading to the conclusion that the

22 services were in a rather less healthy state than at

23 least the introductory and concluding paragraphs of the

24 Joint Review might suggest.

25 The second issue to which we invited your particular




18



1 attention was that of what Haringey knew or ought to

2 have known of the state of its services in the period in

3 question.

4 Were you to conclude that the Joint Review amounted

5 to an accurate reflection of the state of those

6 services, then in reality the new material does little

7 to advance the position in which you found yourself at

8 the conclusion of the original hearings.

9 If you were to form the view that the Joint Review

10 did not accurately illustrate the true position, and

11 that in fact Haringey's Children's Services were in

12 a number of respects in a worse state than that

13 suggested by the Joint Review, then two questions arise

14 for consideration. First, were Haringey's members and

15 senior officers aware of the true position? Second, if

16 they were not, what does this enable you to conclude as

17 to the effectiveness of their systems for monitoring the

18 state of services?

19 There would seem to be little if any suggestion in

20 the evidence that you have heard to indicate that any

21 member or officer of Haringey Council was given any

22 indication by any member of the Joint Review Team that

23 the situation was otherwise than as portrayed in the

24 report or the feedback sessions which preceded it. Not

25 only do the officers and members deny ever having




19



1 received such an indication, but the Joint Review

2 members deny ever having given one.

3 It would appear therefore that if the Joint Review

4 was overly positive, the only way that Haringey would

5 have been aware of the fact was if they discovered it

6 for themselves. Of crucial importance in that regard

7 would have been the availability of accurate management

8 information.

9 The extent to which such information was available

10 during the first half of 1999 was dealt with by

11 Ms Wilson during the course of her oral evidence. She

12 was directed to the relevant sections of the Joint

13 Review itself, the case recording audit and the Quality

14 Protects MAP, all of which appeared to illustrate

15 deficiencies in Haringey's systems for the collection of

16 management data.

17 She acknowledges shortcomings in the data but

18 nonetheless asserts that she was aware of nothing that

19 indicated to her at the time that Haringey was failing

20 to meet its statutory obligations in the manner

21 suggested by Miss Gray.

22 Plainly the question of the extent to which a local

23 authority should rely upon the findings of a joint

24 review in informing itself of the state of services

25 which it offers is a matter of judgment for you. There




20



1 seems little doubt however that external assessments,

2 like joint reviews, are best reviewed alongside accurate

3 management information generated internally.

4 Were you to reach the conclusion that the true state

5 of Children's Services in Haringey in early 1999 was

6 otherwise than is expressed in the Joint Review, then

7 the validity of the argument advanced by some Haringey

8 witnesses to the effect that they were entitled to rely

9 upon the Joint Review as an accurate indication of the

10 state of their services may have to be reassessed.

11 The third question, put simply, is whether any of

12 this might have made any difference to Victoria.

13 There seems to us to be only one route by which it

14 might. If the review should have been differently

15 framed, so as to reflect a more negative picture of

16 Haringey's Social Services, had it been framed in that

17 way, would this have prompted Haringey to have taken

18 action during the first half of 1999 so that their

19 services when they came to deal with Victoria's case

20 would have been better equipped to do so? In our

21 submission a conclusion of this nature would inevitably

22 involve a degree of speculation. Indeed, the level of

23 speculation involved may lead you to the view that no

24 useful conclusion is possible.

25 In considering the matter we would submit that the




21



1 four following pieces of evidence may be of assistance.

2 First is the evidence of all the Haringey witnesses

3 as to how seriously they took the Joint Review and the

4 weight they attached to its conclusions.

5 The second is the nature and speed of Haringey's

6 reaction to one issue regarding Children's Services, to

7 which their attention was drawn at an early stage by the

8 Joint Review Team, namely the possibility of burn-out of

9 staff in the east. You will recall from yesterday's

10 evidence that, despite what Ms Wilson called interim

11 measures, the addressing of this issue continued to

12 appear on Haringey's Management Action Plans as late

13 as September 2000.

14 The third is the nature and extent of Haringey's

15 reaction to the critical SSI inspection of June 2000.

16 Finally the experience of Ealing may provide

17 a useful comparison by which you could assess what

18 Haringey might have achieved had they received

19 a critical Joint Review and chosen to act decisively

20 upon it. In particular you will recall Mr Tutt

21 explaining how he managed to effect a complete

22 restructuring of Ealing's Children's Services within

23 three months. Thank you sir.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I am very grateful to both you

25 Mr Garnham and Miss Lawson for very, very helpful




22



1 submissions which will be of great assistance to me and

2 my colleagues, as will be written submissions when we

3 receive them.

4 (10.00 am)

5 (Inquiry concluded)

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