What is yet more tragic is the legacy that this affair left in its wake – the so-called “‘Baby P’ effect.”
The Baby P effect is the pendulum swing that has occurred in the attitudes and behaviour of the Social Service when it comes to babies and children manifesting injuries.
That case was mismanaged when Peter was repeatedly seen by Haringey Children’s Services and NHS health professionals over an eight month period, during which time he sustained over 50 injuries. At no time was he taken from his mother. No Care Order was issued. Nothing. He was allowed to return home each time, eventually to his death.
The case became very high profile, with child protection services of Haringey and other agencies subject to wide criticism for their fatal failure to execute their duties and responsibilities. As a result of the incident, three inquiries and a nationwide review of social service care were launched.
The actions of Social Services have swung from one extreme of neglect to the other of over-caution. Unwilling for there to be any repeat of the Peter Connelly case, children are now regularly removed from their parents custody when they have suffered bona fide accidental injuries.
This reaction may prevent a repeat of the tragedy; but it replaces it with the tragedy of broken families, torn apart on flimsy, inconclusive evidence and “expert” opinion as testimony.
As just one example, in a recent case following a single hearing, lasting no more than a quarter of an hour, during which the parents were not allowed to challenge the “evidence” of an expert witness, a judge ruled that 3 children must be taken from their parents and placed into care. The reason, because the medical expert testified that bruising on one child could possibly have been caused by “pinching.” “Possibly.”
Mr Justice Thorpe stated regarding this case, “I am completely aghast at this case. There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter. Once you lose a child it is very difficult to get a child back.”
It is understood that Social Services are trying to avoid another human tragedy; however, what is being overlooked are the lesser-publicized human tragedies that occur when children are taken away from their parents when they are in no danger, when there has been no crime commited and when misinterpretation of the facts has given rise to a misdiagnosis and an injustice.