….and surprise surprise, is walking away from the problem.
Tory MP Edward Timpson….well-meaning woffler on care-system reform
In a two-part Paedofile Special today and tomorrow, The Slog focuses on a key weakness in the chain of hunting down systemic paedophiles: the Party loyalties, denial, and protective Establishmentarianism of those we elect to rise above such things. Today, I examine the ideas of current Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children Edward Timpson. My thesis here is very straightforward and well-evidenced: he is a direct lawyer/bureaucrat transplant from the very system he is supposed to be reforming. And he isn’t tackling the most important issue for most reformers: systemic child-abuse and trafficking exploitation.
When I met up with the LibDem MP John Hemmings last January, his advice on the subject of systemic childcare abuse was “talk to your MP about it”. We saw how, in a recent post on the subject, telling Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk about a repeated offender got the constituent nowhere. Surprise surprise, the offender – later convicted and given a long prison sentence – was a prominent member of Danczuk’s local Labour Party.
Now another case of, shall we say ‘conflict of interest’, has come to my notice. Conservative MP Edward Timpson isn’t just any old backbencher. He isn’t even just any old Junior Minister. Since September 2012, he has been Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families. So you’d think he might be a bloke one should talk to about systemic child abuse. You would particularly expect that to be the case, because an occasional colleague of mine heard Timpson give evidence to a recent enquiry, at which he was bragging about ‘exporting’ our wonderful system to Barbados.
Well now, I wonder why Eddie thinks a system with a nonstop record of abuse, mysterious death and client suicide should be lauded by him as being ‘wonderful’? Perhaps it might be on account of Timpson having practised as a family law barrister in Cheshire courts, specialising in the cases of vulnerable children. Or because Timpson was also Vice Chairman for the Run-away and Missing Children Group. Or because Timpson sat on the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee.
Even likelier, I suspect, it’s because Timpson was Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adoption and Fostering. Indeed, now he’s in office, Timpson lists as two policy priorities ‘Supporting social workers providing help and protection to children’ and ‘adoption, fostering and residential care home reform’.
Mr Timpson thinks there should be a lot more fostering. Mr Timpson and his wife have been foster carers for 29 years.
Edward Timpson is the personification of a system that fails. No wonder he speaks in favour of it. But what I wonder is this: do you put a core and senior member of a failing system into a key role in reforming it? To which I suspect the answer is, “You do if you don’t want anything to be done”.
On April 18th 2013 – just five days after a Walesonline publication of a damning report about Bridgend Council’s inaction re a known paedophile – Edward Timpson made a speech to the NSPCC. You can read it in full here. I urge you to do so, for two reasons: first, because it does demonstrate that Timpson is a man who has devoted his life to helping vulnerable kids, and is obviously utterly sincere. And second, because not once at any point in the speech does he announce any concrete plans at all for reform of the Care Homes system in the UK.
Edward Timpson talks in that speech of the domestic neglect from which kids have been removed, and “shocking revelations about child sexual exploitation”. But the Tory answer to this is “primary school pupils will have the chance to learn about internet safety under our proposed changes to the National Curriculum”. He mentions how “it’s clear that too many local authorities and other agencies are still failing to meet acceptable standards for safeguarding children – to look for and act on signs of abuse, to intervene early enough and remove children decisively”, but here he is talking about removal from the abusive family home.
It’s as if internet porn and dysfunctional families were the sole problems. Until there’s a gliding reference of two lines about the system and how it works – or doesn’t: but even that is immediately followed by a jargonised reference to “some highly effective examples of good practice, such as multi-agency safeguarding hubs, including the one I visited in Nottinghamshire”. Oh FFS.
Once he tackles the issue (at last) head-on, this is what we read…try not to weep:
“We’re moving towards a much more child-centred system in which there’s a greater emphasis on early help, on identifying and tackling neglect and on multi-agency working….We’ve delivered on this in the revised Working Together guidance, which has just come into force this week. And we’re also producing an equivalent young person’s guide for the first time, with the Office of the Children’s Rights Director, to make sure we reach those whose needs are at its very heart. Crucially, the guidance emphasises that safeguarding is the responsibility of all professionals who work with children, reinforcing, once again, the importance of multi-agency working.”
I’m sorry, but this is puffery, bollocks and bureaucratspeak. It is more pamphlets and more seminars on working together. It is doing nothing. On and on the waffle goes:
“As you know, Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) are absolutely vital to driving this at a local level so that different services; police, health, education, social care, work closely together and properly share information.”
Let me explain to readers about Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards: they’re a rebranding exercise. They used to be called Area Child Protection Committees, until New Labour realised they were useless. I’ve yet to see any evidence that systemic abuse has got better under the LSCBs. But what I can do is show you evidence that there are failings with them. Although Edward Timpson claims that his Government is enacting the Munro Report recommendations, when it comes to LSCBs it is clear what Munro wanted: more energy devoted to “looking at the wider systemic issues that LSCBs are in such a strong position to identify”.
In fact, they spend much of their time bogged down in so-called SCRs – Serious Case Reviews. By definition, these highlight practitioner error, not syestemic abuse. And Timpson offers no suggestions as to how that might change. This is a classic case of talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Once again, Government is walking away from the real problem while hiding behind administrative cobblers, glossy leaflets, liaison committees and ‘hubs’, God help us.
Why? That’s the question one keeps on coming back to. The bottom line in this particular case is that of a Government being increasingly cornered by a suspicion that some of its members and supporters are or have been sexual predators upon small children in State care….and its response to this: the appointment of a bloke as Under Secretary at the DoE who, while clearly himself of good intentions, has every interest in reporting back that there’s nothing to worry about. Not only that: he seems genuinely to believe that the entire problem lies within the domestic environment of the victims….not those hiding in the system as devised by the State.
Even worse – as with any bureaucrat – his suggestions are entirely systemic: that’s to say, he does not appear to accept that any human psychological depravity underlies the problem of care-child suicides, odd judicial decisions, police cover-ups, hastily-closed enquiries, MI5 raids on victim support agencies and disappearing Care System kids. For example, rebellious kids will run away and abscond: only a naif would expect otherwise. But would you expect the Government to under-report that behaviour by over 90%? Even the police accuse Westminster and Whitehall of blatantly lying about the real level of disappearance – in the region of 10,000 a year – so why doesn’t the Under Secretary for Children want a rigorous enquiry into that?
Perhaps the same tribal loyalties are in play here as are evident in each of the other two main political Parties. The LibDems turned a blind eye to Cyril Smith, Tom Watson does the same in relation to paedophile Labour councillors and minority cultural sex abuse, and the Conservatives continue to be blasé about former Cabinet Ministers under Margaret Thatcher. I remain suspicious that the two New Labour Ministers connected to Family Courts and the Care System (Harriet Harman and Ed Balls) knew far more about systemic sex abuse than they ever admitted; and I am sure that part of their motivation for doing nothing at all during their years in office was fear of what might come out about others in their own ranks.
Yesterday I posted about Chris Grayling’s seemingly fishbrained approach to Family Court ‘reform’ – a set of policies almost willfully designed to completely ignore the real problems of secrecy and corruption therein. But there is always that nagging doubt in my mind: does Grayling simply have a fish-egg head, or is he once again doing the bidding of those above him with much to fear and hide?
The old saying that turkeys never vote for Christmas is apposite in relation to almost every aspect of The Paedofile series of reports and investigations. It is now just over eight years since I stumbled upon this cesspit of vicious blackmail, suicide and psychotic oddity. In that time there have been at least half a dozen false dawns – moments when it seemed that Plymouth nurseries, Soham murders, Richmond care homes, damning Judicial Enquiries, and eurocrat sex-rings were about to blow the lid off things. But instead – somehow – the top stayed on Krakatoa…..only the victims choking off an eruption as they burned in its massive reservoir of sulphurous magma.
Many observers, naturally, say, “That’s because this is just another crackpot conspiracy club, and you are nothing more than a useful idiot recruiting new members for it”. I can understand their reaction: but not if they’ve taken the time to study the detail – or seen the syndrome at work on the ground. The three insoluble engimas for such denialists are one, why are MP perpetrators always dead; two, why do so many victims describe almost exactly the same details when recounting their experiences; and three, why have there been so many security agency interventions in Wales, Richmond, Plymouth, Stafford and the posher central areas of London? Why – by the by – are the confirmations by CIA and FBI operatives that the UK is “a well validated hub for child-trafficking” attracting no government attention, or evoking Parliamentary questions? Why all this bollocks about arresting 97 year-old sad DJ gropers, or blaming Jimmy Savile for “grooming a nation”?
At the masthead of this site is the phrase ‘waging war on distraction, distortion and deception’. I continue to believe that exactly that lies behind this quite extraordinary history of investigations, re-investigations, closed files, reopened files, whitewashes, deckchair rearrangement and D-Notices. From Bob Boothby to Leon Brittan, we have seen gangland and showbizz distraction, legislative distortion, and Enquiry-by-Media deception. Ultimately, the closer one gets to threatening the centre of power, the more that power throws red herrings to the wolves….while moving about constantly in a bid to evade deception – or smearing anyone who questions their actions as a homophobe.
There is nothing to see here beyond an open-and-shut case of protecting one’s own. From the top of the Royal bloodline to the bottom of the Party infrastructure, such is going on all the time. Tomorrow, The Slog will delve further into local cases where the same tribal ties are all too apparent. Some of what emerges even regulars here will find shocking. But ultimately, it’s the Nelsonian blind-eye practitioners we need to shock into action: systemic paedophilia – just like overpaid footballers, appalling soap role-models, Olympic venue bribes, invasive journalism, economic model nonsense and our toleration of democratic destruction from Brussels and Berlin – are all part of the same problem: cultural decline being disguised behind of tidal wave of bollocks.