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June 11, 2011 permalink
A girl taken by British child protectors has disappeared.
The mystery of Haringey’s missing 'Girl X’ makes a mockery of the Children Act
The family of a girl taken into care have not seen or heard from her for 10 months, writes Christopher Booker.
The social workers of Haringey are notorious for having failed to prevent the deaths of Baby P and Victoria Climbié. But in their zeal to avoid any repetition of these tragedies, they are now at the forefront of those councils which have pushed the number of children taken into care to an all-time high. In all the cases I have been following where children have been taken from their families for what seem like dubious reasons, no single instance has been more disturbing than the plight of a 10-year-old girl seized by Haringey last year, who seems in the past 10 months to have vanished off the radar.
“Girl X”, as I shall call her, was taken into care on the basis of three allegations. One turned out to be so laughably erroneous that it was soon dropped; a second was likewise dropped when medical tests completely disproved the council’ s claims. The third, highly questionable, has still not been put to any evidential test.
The last time Girl X was seen by her mother was at a supervised contact session last August. Having complained of sexual abuse by her foster carer’s 19-year-old son, she asked to be given, as a birthday present, a journal with a lock in which she could record her “secret thoughts”. Since that day she has not been seen by her parents or, since the autumn, by her siblings, who are also in care. It seems she has since been interviewed by three people – an independent social worker, an independent psychiatrist and her guardian, all of whom reported that she wished to see and be reunited with her mother.
No one representing the family has been allowed to see her, including the girl’s grandparents, who came from abroad specifically to visit her. Her parents have been forbidden to telephone her or even send a Christmas card. Her whereabouts are a mystery. When I put questions about her to Haringey last year, the council’s only response was to ask for a court order forbidding me to refer to the case at all. (It was not granted.)
What makes all this particularly disturbing is that, in several respects, it seems to defy the Children Act, which insists that councils must do all they can to encourage contact between children taken into care and their parents, who continue to share parental responsibility until a child is adopted. “The responsible authority,” says the Act, “has a duty to endeavour to promote contact” with the parents and “any relative, friend or other person connected to the child”. In particular, parents must be allowed to see medical or school reports relating to their child. The law also insists that, if children are old enough, they should be allowed to appear in court to express their wishes. None of these things has happened.
Why – when even Baby P’s mother was last year allowed out of prison to enjoy supervised contact with her surviving children – has Girl X been shut away as a silent prisoner, seemingly denied her rights? What has happened to Girl X?
Source: Telegraph (UK)