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
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,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
23 The issue is the extent to which that which was
24 known was properly interpreted and reflected in the
25 Joint Review Report.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
1 attention was that of what Haringey knew or ought to
2 have known of the state of its services in the period in
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
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
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
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
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
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)