Children’s Social Services
As regular readers of my blog will know I have for the last five months been involved with the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee (SAPRC) which has been reviewing Children’s Social Services in the Isle of Man. It has been a much needed inquiry especially after a few years ago when the new Safe Guarding Regulations were bought in. Referrals to Social Services were running at around 1,000 per year, a rough equivalent to the birth rate. If that had continued then nearly every child born in the Isle of Man would have at some stage been referred to Social Services and this is patently not necessary and very costly. That fortunately is history but there continue to be quite serious allegations against Social Services and the way in which they interact with families and their children.

We have taken evidence in confidence from 21 people over the last few months and some of it is fairly harrowing. I said at the recent oral hearing with Debbie Brayshaw, Director of Children’s Social Services, that we have seen some very distressed, disturbed and often frighten people who instead of viewing Social Services as help and care feel intimidated and threatened.

I understand that Social Workers are in a difficult position, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I would like to think that the emphasis is now more on the family rather than just safe guarding. It’s all very well being ultra cautious but when vulnerable people and children are involved there are often unforeseen consequences and a legacy of mistrust.

As a result of the Tynwald debate on Wednesday 20th April, the matter has once more come to the fore. It seems as though the task is nowhere near complete. We really need to get a handle on this and bottom it out as whilst some of the things that we have heard about are historic, I believe that some practices may still be ongoing.

Ms Brayshaw admitted that there has been a huge churn of staff particularly during the years I refer to earlier when there were simply not enough staff to cope. Staff have been and continue to be bought over from the UK with no or little knowledge of Manx Law and also the social fabric of the island.

Better training is required for new recruits, particularly from the UK and I do hope when we finalise our inquiry there will be some recommendations that the Health Department will be able to implement.

Just thought to update you.