Twelve-year-old Tia Rigg was raped and murdered by her uncle, John Maden, in April 2010. He was later sentenced to life imprisonment. In May 2011, a serious case review identified major failings on the part of Salford social services and other agencies.
Whether or not Tia’s murder could have been prevented, she faced much suffering throughout her life from which she could have been protected. While individual staff made mistakes, the report also revealed flaws in the system, including poor communication. There were indications that ”thresholds for robust child protection interventions were too high”, and there were “a number of resource issues identified by individual agencies”.
Disturbingly, in a survey by Community Care magazine of 170 frontline staff nationally, 82 per cent said that child protection thresholds had increased in their area over the past year, and 72 per cent of these said that budget cuts were a factor.
In all too many cases, many social workers are being put under pressure to ignore child abuse, despite its devastating effects. While individuals working in the field of child protection are pilloried when things go wrong, there are serious questions to be addressed about our priorities as a society.
© Savitri Hensman works in community care and equalities. She is a long-standing and respected writer and commentator on Christian social action and theology, as well as an Ekklesia associate.