One small voice


           The tragedy of the starvation and torture of a four year old is difficult to take. I am still profoundly shocked by evil, even though I have seen, heard and read about all too much evil over the years. It is particularly difficult to grasp how anyone, let alone a mother and acting father, could treat a defenceless four year old in that way over such a long period. Of course the murderers were the parents and they are rightly now condemned.

           Maybe because most of us could never contemplate deliberately harming a child, no-one in the community around took any action to help, protect or save him as  no-one saw the danger to him from his parents. Let us hope the serious case review tells us more of why that happened. So far the media implies that those teachers, doctors, nurses, and neighbours who saw something was wrong were deterred from taking action by lies from the mother who apparently  always had a cover story for the boy’s conduct and state of health.

            The ultimate sadness comes from realising that the one small voice which was never heard in all this was the voice of  Daniel himself. Why was he never asked why he was scavenging for food? Why was he never asked if he wanted a school dinner? Why was he never allowed to speak about how he was bruised, or emaciated, or had a broken bone? Or was he asked but no adult listened intelligently to the reply or lack of reply? Did no responsible adult ever speak to him without his mother present? Did they never detect his fear or his hesitation in answering, if he held back the truth from a sense of fear of home?  Could he not trust any adult around him sufficiently so he could tell them the truth?

          One of the things the enquiry should look at is the way adults can and do communicate with children in  their care. Of course caring parents and  adults have a right not to be spied on through their children, and we need to remember children too can lie. But surely if we had healthier relations between adults and children, not weighed down too much by political correctness, fear of misunderstanding of the adults’ motives, or a simple reluctance by adults to listen to what children say at all, we might spot such a heinous crime as this before the death of its victim? We need to protect children against that  minority of adults who prey on children for their own vile motives, but we need to allow the rest  to engage with children so there is some mutual trust.

           In a recent BBC interview we were as always directed to resources, to local authority budgets and priorities. This surely was not a matter of budgets and priorities. Health care workers, teachers, and social workers all saw this child, all were paid salaries to help him. This is not a shortage of resources, but a failure of communications, a failure of many in society to take a little care for a helpless and tortured four year old. Rather than pick on one or two people who could have done better, maybe what we need to do is look at the general issue of how adults in caring professions relate to children and when they should ask the child to tell them what they think and feel when there are worries or suspicions.

                 Doubtless many good teachers, social workers and medics do just this and save children as a result. We need to spread the word to others who do not.

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  1. Javelin
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I fear that the social workers didnt carry out a proper risk assessment.

    I noticed that in surgery these days they carry out check lists – copying airline pilots.

    It seems that a check list should exist.

    I’m not talking about lots of paperwork but less paperwork in the form of simple checkboxes – not big reports – look at what airline pilots do. The risks are consequences feel the same.

    For example if boxes are checked then a visit is made. If a visit is made then another checklist is filled out.

    The problem isn’t paperwork is too much of the wrong sort.

    • Deborah
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Reliance on checklists forms the root of many of today’s problems. Thirty years ago governance agencies relied upon the good judgement of professionals. Most of those professionals probably had their own checklists, but they were an aide-memoire, not an instruction manual. Then “Quality” arrived and a widespread belief developed that governance by checklist was inherently superior. This morphed into the idea that a checklist is all you need, and now we have governance agencies – in the NHS, banking, the Audit Commission, etc – all directing their work around precisely worded questions, ticking boxes without ever having to think “outside the box”. If the boxes don’t mention an issue – no matter how serious it is or how obviously it signposts a problem – it can and usually will be ignored. The responsible adults are not required to engage brain and exercise good judgement on anything that isn’t specifically mentioned, and they will not be held responsible for any failure to do so.
      But no checklist can ever consider everything and we are now seeing the consequences. Without the application of sound judgement, our system is failing. Again and again, as we ask how children could have been left with abusive parents, how the elderly could have been left in their own excrement, how peoples savings could have been squandered, how fat cat bosses could get massive payoffs for failure….. again and again the “responsible” adults claim ” The proper process has been followed”.
      For God’s sake, we don’t need any more checklists.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Indeed all that was needed was one person with common sense to actually act. Nothing whatever to do with resources or even training. Alas so often, everyone knows, yet no real action, other than paperwork is ever taken. Yet then in other cases they take totally absurd actions where none was needed. Can no one make sensible judgements anymore? It seems not in the state sector anyway and the private sector is hamstrung by absurd and daft laws too.

      • zorro
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that their rationale is that ‘tick boxes’ are cheaper than properly trained professionals exercising their judgement…….It is omnipresent…..’computer says no’ etc etc…..Has it made things better?


    • uanime5
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Check lists work in airplanes because the pilot knows what the problem is and is trying to resolve it by performing a series of actions in the correct sequence; for example if an engine stops working they get the “restarting engine check list” and pull the various levers to restart the engine. This check list works because the procedure will always be the same when a certain problem occurs.

      However this won’t work when dealing with children who may have been abused because there’s a huge number of variables; for example a child may be reluctant to speak because their parents are threatening them or because they’re shy. Even trying to determine whether a child keeps going to hospital because they’re accident prone or a victim of abuse is difficult.

  2. Jerry
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    In some ways I hope I’m wrong in this but I fear not, this is what happens when budgets ARE cut and/or staff ARE over-worked [1] (to many cases on their book) or are more interested in meeting some Whitehall target rather than the pastoral needs of a child but more importantly -and this is what really worries me- everyone is risk-adverse, when taking a child to safety, or giving a child a free meal etc. might result in disciplinary or compensation action – and of course unless the child is entitled to free school meals then no one in this brave new world were we all know the value of everything but the worth of nothing. Even more so when you look at that picture of this little boy, standing next to a 50″ TV, the games or Pay-TV STB, the laptop, no doubt the £1500 worth of three piece suite behind the camera (all most likely on credit, that the (words left out ed) parents could not really afford).

    Common sense, in modern Britain, what’s that?

    Oh and it should have been a whole life tariff for both….

    [1] not necessarily in socail services, a child first needs to be refereed to them, without that referral the socail services can not even start to do their job

    • Jerry
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Another thing, relevant to child safety and professionals being so risk-adverse these days, I wonder if this child ever showed signs of distress but no member of staff at school or elsewhere took the child aside and gave the boy a simple hug, even cuddle, thus likely re-enforcing the unloved life and messages he was receiving at home – a simple hug or cuddle, showing the child that he is of value, might have unlocked this abuse.

      • Bob
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        “no member of staff at school or elsewhere took the child aside and gave the boy a simple hug”

        That might cost them their career nowadays.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          @Bob & forthurst: Indeed, that was basically my points… 🙁

      • waramess
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, how about a sandwitch or an apple. This case has absolutely nothing to do with budgets or even common sense. How much common sense do you need to see a starving child? So starved in fact that his bones had stopped growing.

        I have absolutely no idea what the cause of this abomination was; sufficc it to say that there were many involved responsible for gross negligence in not doing anything about this poor little boys plight.

        I would wager some serious money however that those who might have been culpable, including teachers, will get away scott free, perhaps with a bit of re-training.

        • zorro
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Lessons will be learned…… after Victoria Climbie or not….I wonder how many lessons have been learned in these public services. If I had a pound for each one I would be a rich man….but perhaps they haven’t.


          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            State sector standard response is as the order below.

            Too early to speculate legal proceeding likely.

            We have put an inquiry in place we do not want to pre judge it.

            The system we had then (put in place by the last lot) was quite different to the current one Lessons have been learnt from…..

            We now have a new name and super new logo & computer system, for the same rabble of staff, so all will be fine from now on ~ until the next case then repeat from the start as needed.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

            New office, letter heads, signs and lovely bright new furniture too all very convenient for the new CEO’s commute too.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: “New office, letter heads, signs and lovely bright new furniture too all very convenient for the new CEO’s commute too.

            But the state sector learnt that trick from the private sector, until the rules were tightened up is wasn’t at all uncommon for one company to vanish and a new company to appear, both having the same set of directors, managers and even buildings…

        • Jerry
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          @waramess: But in this risk adverse society common sense is not allowed, the check list must be applied and the check list says the child might be allergic to the sandwich, might choke on an apple or what ever (never mind the possibility of other dietary requirements), a cuddle might be mistaken for child abuse its self, whist budget cuts and over work do mean that people have less time – if you expect one person to do two peoples work than things slip how ever conscientious the staff are.

          It is the system that is at fault just5 as much as anyone not doing what common sense would expect.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          There’s only gross negligence if the person’s actions kill someone. Omissions (lack of action) don’t count. So the teachers, social workers, and healthcare workers can’t be punished under the existing law.

          Regarding negligence claims this could only be filed against social services as only they had the legal right to remove this boy from his parents. It’s nonsensical to blame the teachers when there was very little they could legally do.

      • forthurst
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Jerry “…no member of staff at school or elsewhere took the child aside and gave the boy a simple hug, even cuddle…”

        Teachers are guilty of child sex abuse until proven innocent.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Like you Jerry I wonder about the over worked excuse, how many children were in the class with Daniel, was there a teacher’s assistant in the class as so many nursery classes do have one or a shared assistant each week now.

      How many children was the social worker who was passed this child’s case dealing with on the week of their visit, were they overworked? Do you know the answers to these or just surmising they had too many cases that week?

      Was this poor child on free school meals? If not, why would giving a child a free meal result in disciplinary action if it was the headteacher’s decision, having been told the child was scavaging in bins, I can’t see how they could be facing disciplinary action – surely a head has discretion over decisions such as this. I thought schools only went off letters from the child’s doctor over medications or medical treatments that teachers may have to follow – if not that could be simple correction to allow them to ask for medical evidence if a parent suggests a child shouldn’t be fed, which would ring alarm bells without medical back up notes.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I have spent most of my life looking after children one way or another.
    I reckon I would have noticed. I reckon that I would have said something in the Staff Room (remember them?)
    I remember once speaking, quite politely to a girl and she replied by throwing her head onto the desk and sobbing her heart out! In the Staff Room later, I mentioned this to the Deputy Head (remember them?) and he told me the whole story. We all knew what we needed to know. No gossip.
    With enormous schools, however, this chance disappears.
    In Primary Schools, I suppose, but do not know, he was written off as a statemented immigrant of very low intelligence and possible ADHD/Dyspraxia/Dyslexia.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Doubtless we will hear that same old phrase “that lessons will be learnt” after the investigation, but will that be the case.

    We seem to have far too many situations where commonsense action seems to have got lost in our tick box, politically correct, human rights culture.

    Some simple questions need to be answered.

    Why with the School acting as the legal guardians for children in their care, did they not seem to recognise a problem and act accordingly.
    I see it is reported that the youngish Head Master has now moved on to another School.

    Given that Social Services were aware of this child and his family, why did they not recognise a serious problem and act accordingly.

    Why did the Police aware that the father had a string of criminal convictions, and a string of complaints from neighbours not investigate further.

    Why was the father even allowed into the Country, with reported outstanding convictions in his own Country.

    Why with the child admitted to hospital with a broken arm (and probably indications of other injuries) and being grossly underweight, did they not report those facts to the Police or Social Services, or at least detaind him.

    Clearly something is grossly wrong with the system when a child can be abused for so long and is known to all of the services.

    I cannot help thinking that an experienced grandparent would have spotted a problem without too much trouble at all.

    Perhaps the solution is to employ more grandparents within Social services to visit more children at home, for them to chuck out the tick box culture, and for them to rely upon intuition and experience.
    You simply cannot teach that at University.

    Money, no its not about money, its about lack of commonsense, lack of experience of real life, lack of intuition, and lack of courage to do the right thing.

    • Deborah
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      I wholly agree.
      The problem is not lack of resources. That excuse, used in the NHS for years, has now been soundly discredited.
      The problem is that professionals have been able to avoid criticism by following a blinkered “tickbox” approach, instead of opening their eyes and applying common sense and judgement.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        What about Mid Staffordshire where the lack of nurses resulted in patients not getting any care? Isn’t that an example of a lack of resources resulting in a negative outcome?

        • Richard1
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Mid-Staffs was a failure of the whole NHS socialistic command and control model. It would have either not happened or would have been caught much earlier had it been privately owned and run for profit. Managers and other employees would have had their livelihoods on the line for poor performance in a way that doesn’t happen in a state monopoly. Why is Andy Burnham still on the Labour front bench after this terrible shambles?

          • Jerry
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

            @Richard1: No it was not a failure of a socialistic command structure, Mid-Staffs was a failure of a capitalist, faux-business, control structure, that is what NHS Trusts are all about what with their internal markets and management structures etc.

            Oh and in case you forget, it was a Tory government that introduced the NHS Trusts and internal markets, private providers of care and staff etc, “Blue Labour” just carried were the Thatcher/Major governments policies left off.

          • uanime5
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

            Given how (unamed, unspecified and not counted ed) care homes abused the people they were paid to look after and treated the elderly badly in order to make a greater profit I’d have to say that if Mid Staffordshire had been private it would have been much worse.

            Reply Most private sector care homes do a good job and should not b e lsurred in this way.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            @JR reply: As do most NHS hospitals and the staff within, so perhaps you might like to also edit out undue criticisms of the NHS in the future?

            Reply I seek to remove unfair generalisaitons about the NHS and private sector companies.

          • uanime5
            Posted August 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            John I wrote private sector care homes because I assumed that if I mentioned the Winterbourne View care home (6 care workers were jailed for 38 charges of abuse) by name it would be censored. However since you censored my post any way I have little incentive to avoid naming names.


            Reply I delete all allegations about named people and institutions if there is no evidence to support or if I do not have time to check them. It would be quite wrong to seek to slur all private sector care homes because one has behaved in a criminal way resulting in guilty verdicts in court.

        • zorro
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, none of the nurses noticed people starving or dying of thirst….? Is that what you are saying uanime5? Utter nonsense…..


          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

            Indeed utter nonsense anyone working there clearly must have known.

          • uanime5
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            The nurses only spent a small amount of time with each patient due to the high patient to nurse ratio. You’ve also ignored that feeding patients is now the responsibility of healthcare assistants, who were also overworked.

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 7, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            you spout all of this defensive rhetoric “The nurses only spent a small amount of time with each patient due to the high patient to nurse ratio”. Are you just surmising, do you actually know how many staff were working on those wards during those shifts.

            I ask because if I use a big wide brush, as you have, to say they weren’t overworked e.g. I have a colleague who told me last week that he wished I were with him in A&E with his mother in law at the weekend before. She was in end of life care with cancer and had fallen and cut her head, she had been left a long time waiting whilst he watched several nurses at the station chatting about their holidays, showing each other photographs on a gadget for quite a while (i’m unsure whether he meant iphone or ipad). I asked why he didn’t go up to them, his wife stopped him, she didn’t want poor care for her mother when they eventually got around to her. If the nurses were on break they shouldn’t have been in sight of waiting patients. I would quite rightly be berated.

            I am a big defender of the NHS, I don’t want more private medical intervening; e,g. like the private dentists who won’t see NHS patients and NHS dental patients struggling to find low cost treatment. But I’m not blinkered that improvements can be made in the structures that are there.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      @alan juston: Immigration policy is not to blame for this sort of abuse, there has been many such -within the family child abuse- cases were the ‘parents’ have been several generations born and breed UK citizens. Nor do we need more grandparents, we just need more common sense.

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink


        “immigration Policy…..”

        I did not say immigration policy was to blame for this abuse, I simply said a convicted criminal with outstanding charges (as reported) should never be given permission to gain entry to the UK.

        I do agree with your second comment in your blog about a possible sensible human contact and concern, but our system has put anyone who behaves in such a manner as some sort of predator.

        Do not under estimate the life knowledge and usefulness of someone who is a grandparent (non criminal record of course) .
        Social services would be better employing some of these people for certain tasks, rather than green behind the ears university graduates who are not parents, and have limited life experience.

        The DATA protection act may also hide some of this reported abuse, as information tends not to be fully shared.

        The fact of the matter is all of the State services failed, other than the fire brigade (who were not involved), and so called freinds and neighbours did not speak up, probably out of fear of being reported to the authorites in case they were wrong or out of fear of being beaten up by the Father who it would seem had a record of violence.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 5, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          @alan jutson: You said that this person should have been kicked out after his previous conviction(s), that is an immigration policy – unless you are going to tell us what you would do with similar criminals who are born and bread in the UK and who hold UK passports to prevent then going on to commit far worse crimes, perhaps follow the USSR method of internal exile?!

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink


            “Kicked out”


            Please read my words.

            I did not say kicked out, I said, should never have been allowed in !

          • Jerry
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

            @alan juston: Well that is even more of an immigration policy!

            What do you not understand,. there are born and bread UK passport holders who act in the same way, this is not about the single child abuse case -the child is dead and no amount of foot stamping is going to bring this poor child back to life- but how we stop it occurring again, immigration controls will not stop child abuse from UK passport holders here in the UK. Sorry but you are just using this poor kids death as a way to (attack migration ed).

          • Jerry
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            @alan justson: Also, if this man did have “outstanding charges” back in his homeland of Poland all the authorities (back in Poland) needed to do was issues a EAW – job done…

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink


            Sorry, but you are trying to twist my original comments to suit your own thoughts and arguments.

            I am, and never did, suggest that Immigration would control child abuse.

            I simply made a comment about this particular highlighted case.

            Indeed this child may well have been abused in his own Country had they not come here.

            As for Gandparents, I said that they may make a good addition to Social Services personel from their life experience and intuition, and thus that is a totally seperate point indepenendent of the childs own grandparents.

      • zorro
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        As the great Michael Holding once said whilst I was watching a test match…’The trouble with common sense is that it’s not very common…’


    • uanime5
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      I take it you’re referring to Daniel’s step-father, rather than his biological father.

      When Daniel was admitted to hospital with a broken arm in January 2011 he was slightly underweight for a child his age. This event also occurred 18 months before his death and after Daniel went to hospital social services started working with the family.

      Perhaps you should actually research what happened, rather than claiming that grandparents are magically able to spot abuse. The last thing social services needs is more employees who are out of touch with modern families.

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink


        “Magical Grandparents” etc.

        Please read what I have said.

        I said Grandparents would usually be able to spot a problem, so why not engage some of them as social workers or to aid Social Workers.

        I will abolutely guarantee that both myself and my wife would have seen that something was very wrong here, and would have had something done about it had we been aware/seen of this little boys behaviour.

        I have no idea how old you are , or if you have a family, but rest assured when you have bought up your own kids until they have become responsible adults, then you can spot a rogue parent a mile away .
        Its called intuition.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          @alan jutson: “I said Grandparents would usually be able to spot a problem

          They might also be the problem, either directly or indirectly, it is well known that the sexually abused can go on to be the abuser (that is why breaking the cycle is so important), there is no reason to suspect that physical and mental abuse is any different.

          Oh and most people can spot abusive parents a mile off, one doesn’t need to be (or have been) a parent, indeed some times it takes someone out of the family to spot what is going on, even close friends can be hood-winked by excuses.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Alan – I agree.
      I do think there is a place in society for ‘busy bodies’ the people in the street who look out for the children who aren’t being cared for well. In years gone by people like my Nan would give neighbours children pieces of pie and rhubarb from the garden etc. but now interferring is frowned on and peoples suspicions would stop old chaps I know giving food to a youngster.

      How many people are reporting their concerns to Social Services departments each week? Is it so busy now that people can’t intervene themselves, either in fear of aggresive parents or just for a quiet life keeping themselves to themselves, just what are the numbers.

      I thought all schools had a team of Governors, were they alerted over what had been observed. When I took my Child care and education NVQ level 3 we were taught to record observations that troubled us and who to report them to and how to escalate problems.

      This all just makes me feel very sad, Baby P, Victoria Climbie, now this poor child – I read that the Grandmother visited this child a few weeks before his death – but she chooses to blame British Social Services – passing the buck seems to be endemic.

  5. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    You might consider what would work by way of deterrence. ‘Cruel and unusual’ punishments and the principle of ‘an eye for an eye’ and a tooth for a tooth’ would work. Let the boy’s mother and stepfather (and Brady etc be subjected to dreadful treatment ed)I can already hear the cries of the God squad, of psychiatrists and the legal profession. However, natural justice should prevail over vested interests even if (especially if) it needs a change in the law and repudiation of several international treaties.

    Also, if there is anything in the theory of genetic inheritance (there is), the castration of violent criminals should be on the agenda.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      @Lindsay McDougall: Yeah, and you can be the first person wrongly convicted of such a crime… As for castration (or sterilisation), yeah that will work well, considering that chances of conceiving a child is rather unlikely when the criminal is facing at least 30 years in jail – or have I missed the arrival of mixed sex prisons?!

    • uanime5
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Since only men can be castrated are you implying that all violent criminal are male?

      Also given that eunuchs, such as Ghilman, were often used as soldiers because they couldn’t get pleasure from women and instead got pleasure from fighting it’s possible that castration may make some men more violent.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Lindsey. Steady now. Violent criminals have human rights, you know, especially if they are not English.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        In my book, child murderers don’t have any rights at all. And taxpayers have the right not to spend good money on looking after them.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

          @Lindsay McDougall: Perhaps not but the innocent, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, do – something you are your right wing knee-jerk never think of…

    • Bazman
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      They should be sent to a Polish prison to serve their time as Poland is now part of the EU this could not be a cruel and unusual punishment…

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Mr Redwood, what your editor has lost by truncating what I wrote is that the particular cruel and unusual punishments to be inflicted on these child murderers should correspond as nearly as possible to what they did to their victims.

      In considering crime and punishment, atheists do not have the luxury of supposing that all will be corrected in an after life. For atheists, it is a case of:
      WE are the judge and WE are the jury ………………………….

      Atheists do believe in a particular form of Hell. It is to lie on your deathbed being ashamed of your life. Deathbed repentance is of no avail. And allowing evil doers to go unpunished or inadequately punished is part of that shame.

  6. A.Sedgwick
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Your piece yesterday – Problems of Democracy – I considered a response on the much written theme of elected politicians ignoring the will of the majority. Capital punishment is a prime example. The decision should be with the people by referendum not the elected representatives. It is time that by law several referenda were held each Parliament on subjects that commanded the most votes by e petition.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      @A.Sedgwick: If you think there is such wide spread public support for capital punishment then why has no political party made it a manifesto pledge, not even a referendum – not even UKIP…

      No criminal ever commits a crime thinking they will get caught, in the USA many states have the death penalty but that society has one of the highest murder rates in the western world.

      • zorro
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        because you cannot be a member of the EU if the death penalty exists….? Oops!….


        • Jerry
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          @Zorro: But UKIP want out of the EU, nothing to stop them making both EU exit and capital punishment a manifesto commitment. Oops indeed, and perhaps next time you will bother to read what others say?…

  7. Edward2
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Employers now have the worry of prosecution under Corporate Manslaughter Laws should someone they employ lose their life whilst under their supervision.
    Is there no opportunity to bring similar prosecutions against all the many professional carers who yet again failed this poor little boy.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Corporate Manslaughter Laws have existed for sometime and given the difficulty of bringing prosecutions, despite all the deaths in the construction industry, it seems unlikely that anyone will be prosecuted. Especially when the little boy didn’t die while they were supervising him.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Well lets just hope then Uni, that further lessons will be learned.

  8. Iain Gill
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Yes I shocks me too.

    But what shocks me more is the infant schools in the sink estates in the North East of this country. They are after all provided by the state. I dont know if you have been around one of these recently but they are truely terrible. These places are the equivalent of Basildon hospital in the NHS, they need naming and they need urgent action NOW. They have been bad for decades and nothing ever changes. We are letting down so many children routinely its a disgrace.

    As for Coventry council and NHS they have been rubbish for years, it is no surprise to me that they let this child through their grasp.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry but experience shows that nothing will significantly change following ‘the serious case review’.

  10. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    John, I cannot detail, the case due to confidentiality, (has personal expereince of the difficulty of these cases for the professionals involved ed)
    I am disgusted by the lack of care for these children , but in this blame culture where (professionals can get blamed even if they do what they and some others think is the right thing ed)is it surprising that professionals are not acting quickly?

  11. D Hope
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Strikes me that social services have no problem taking children away from many perfectly good parents. But then ignore the worst cases – where the parents are much aggressive and much harder to deal with.

    I totally agree about the communication – why couldnt they just spend serious time talking to the child

    • Jerry
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      @D Hope: The social services have no problem with the simple, easy, cases – I wonder why…

  12. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Rather than the complacency of “lessons will be learned”

    I’d like to know how we will measure the improvement and hold everyone accountable

    • Graham Hamblin
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      One person needs to be made responsible, the problem is trying to make everyone accountable then no one is ever answerable.

      The only detective officer at a sub divisional police station, back in the mid 1960’s, I was asked by a mature police woman to accompany her to a complaint about an ill treated child. He was 18 months old and in less than two hours had been removed from the house to a place of safety.

      Police women in those days had their own departments dealing mainly with women and children. It wouldn’t stop cruelty and murder of children but were a police officer, preferably female, the primary individual responsible it might just improve things?

  13. Cheshire Girl
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I suspect the reason why this child did not confide in his teachers, was that he had been threatened with reprisals at home if he had done so. A very powerful deterrent!

    About 15 years ago, while in Manchester City Centre, I saw a small child (no more than five) wandering about on his own. I asked him what was the matter and he said his Mum had sent him out to buy cigarettes and he couldn’t remember the way back. I took his hand, and we walked up and down Oxford Road hoping that it would jog his memory, but to no avail. I was on the point of calling the police when he suddenly remembered his Mother was in the Town Hall. We walked round the Town Hall, an enormous building with many entrances until he remembered which entrance to take. I went in with him, and his Mother soon began to shout at him for getting lost. I was appalled, and eventually left with a heavy heart.
    The point of telling this story is to say I would do the same thing again today, despite the politically correct mob. Perfectly decent adults are scared of helping a child in distress because of being labelled a paedophile, and the politicians have been complicit in this. Had I left this small child to wander about in Manchester City Centre, who knows what might have happened to him, not to mention the distress he would have felt at not being able to find his Mother. We need to keep a sense of proportion about this matter.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      My wife found three year old child in a similar situation and walked him to the local supermarket. A child of local drug addicts. Tricky if you are man with no mobile phone on them as I sometimes are. Walking the child anywhere would be foolish. Putting a child in a car or van suicidal.

  14. uanime5
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Given that Daniel was 4 and had problems speaking English (his native language was Polish) this made it more difficult to ask him what was wrong. While in most cases talking to a child’s parents can help resolve a problem this doesn’t work if the parent is causing the problem (in this case the mother lied to the school, telling them that Daniel had learning difficulties and shouldn’t be fed anything other than his small packed lunch because he had a rare eating disorder). As long as parents can create a plausible lie to cover up abuse it shouldn’t surprise anyone that children will continue to be abused.

    As Daniel weighed 14.8kg in January 2011 after he went to hospital with a broken arm (50% of 3 year olds are 14.8kg or over), was reported by teachers to look thinner when he returned to school in January 2012, weighed 13.8kg February 10 2012 (25% of 4 year olds are 15kg or over, 50% are 16kg or over), and was 10.7kg when he died on March 3rd 2012 it seems that the majority of the starvation took place over a 1-2 month period (with it’s effects being most noticeable towards the end of this period). So teachers, healthcare workers, and social workers only had a small window of opportunity to notice that something was very wrong before Daniel died. Had his parents waited until nearer the end of term then it’s possible that the teachers wouldn’t have noticed any signs of severe starvation.

    Some reports on this case have mentioned that Daniel had an older sibling who tried to care for him. It’s unclear if this sibling was also abused.

    Also it seems that the National Audit Office has grown tired of Atos’ huge cost and is starting to investigate why 38% of Atos’ decisions are overturned by a tribunal. I suspect the DWP will do everything they can to protect Atos because Atos is effectively the DWP’s shield, which protects the DWP from being blamed for all the ill and disabled people who have been lost their benefits in order to meet with the DWP’s benefit reduction targets.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


      With all of this detailed information you suggest to hand, why did no one act on the boys behalf. ?

  15. Mark
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I suspect part of the problem is the secret nature of family courts. Failings by social workers and other professionals go unchallenged and unreported – until we end up with something that has to go through the criminal court, usually far too late i.e. when there is a death, not just injury.

    More publicity for cases of needed intervention that work would be a self-reinforcing positive. It’s not just about publicising the failures.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      All civil courts are private, not just the family court. Though the criminals courts are sometimes private when a child is involved.

  16. Martyn G
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “Of course caring parents and adults have a right not to be spied on through their children, and we need to remember children too can lie”. Interesting and true.
    But a look at the real world, as reported to me by relatives – an earnest, honest and hard working family – whose daughter recently had a fall from her horse and suffered minor injuries – nothing major, but attendance at A&E thought necessary by her caring parents.
    The A&E staff (this in in Lincs) told the parents that they would not be questioned and must not answer any questions put to their daughter. They were allowed to be present whilst their 10 year old daughter was cross examined as to the cause of her, happily, minor injuries. My point is that there does seem to be areas of the UK where due process involves interrogating a child as to cause of injury whilst overriding parent involvement. Had that been the case in this tragic incident, things might well have turned out differently.

  17. rose
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    One thing these horrifying cases have in common is the presence in the household of a man who isn’t related by blood to the child. We are familiar with the wicked stepmother syndrome because of Snow White and Cinderella, but this pattern of male behaviour, which has equally deep biological roots, is never publicly discussed in the wake of these tragedies. We know the selfish gene exists, and normally civilization seeks to overcome its baser instincts, but as civilization breaks down, including the breakdown of the family, we need to face up to the terrifying results and not keep saying people must live as they please. Civilization, especially the matriarchal form we have enjoyed in Europe, took thousands of years to develop; yet we are destroying it in a few generations and we aren’t allowed to protest, because we would be criticising people’s “lifestyle choices”.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      @rose: There has been enough abuse cases involving male blood relatives (including fathers) to prove that you “theory” is simply wrong.

      • rose
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        Not to prove it wrong but to show there are other patterns of abuse.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 6, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

          @rose: No, to prove it wrong, you are simply wrong. Knee-jerk reactions and simplistic ‘answers’ usually are…

          • rose
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear, here we go again, with aggression and abuse taking the place of argument.
            It should be possible for you to disagree with someone you don’t know the first thing about without resorting to this repeated rudeness.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 7, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

            @rose: Considering that I have given the reasons why you are wrong why do you start trying to bully me [1], rather than try and disprove my comment.

            [1] all I have done is say that you are wrong, give the reasons why and that your opinion is “knee-jerk”, that is neither aggression or abuse – it’s called debate.

  18. John Bolton
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    What disturbs me is that so many professionals looked at this child and failed to see what was was in front of them – a child severely under weight (never mind the injuries).
    Possibly this does not appear on the checklist. Does it have to?

    • Jerry
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      @John Bolton: “What disturbs me is that so many professionals looked at this child and failed to see what was was in front of them

      Perhaps the child was never undressed by or in the presence of these people, because that would be problematic in our over-cautious society, I well remember kids in my class at -all through infant- school being made -yes, made- to strip down to just underwear for “exercises and dance” in the school hall, just to knickers or pants for the school nurse visits (each and every term if I recall). My point, you can only see what you can see, unfortunately x-ray eyes only exist in science fiction…

  19. Paul
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Maybe if this country had proper sentences for evil crimes such as this, fewer would occur. I have always supported the death penalty as I believe it acts as a deterrent. I know this is a disputed argument but if it acts as a deterrent in just one case and saves the life of one person then I believe it’s worth it. 30 years for these two monsters is pathetic. The step-father should not have been in this country anyway as he had been jailed three times in this country.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Given that the USA has the death penalty and a high murder rate I’d have to say that the death penalty isn’t working. In fact many US states are removing the death penalty because innocent people keep being executed.

  20. Bazman
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    They were obviously a devious couple and Poles like many East Europeans here are very conservative and resourceful. They no doubt hid behind what many on this site find sacred such as privacy and the state staying out of family affairs with thier political correctness. They were obviously very good at playing these cards with the nice and well meaning teachers, social workers and other middle class nice people. Nice Doctor Shipman?! How dare anyone accuse him! To this day many a Doris sees a great miscarriage of justice. Hard nosed coppers paid to be suspicious found him out don’t forget, not some ‘safety net’.
    The local doctors surgery would be very focused on this child and these individuals as a father of a seven year old girl I speak from experience. They are not just professional but combine this with a personal interest, when they did come into contact they hid behind being Polish and his subtle intimidation of the staff including doctors. They fell for it. The texts were translated in court as if they speak some sort of secret language as a prime example of this.
    He died of a reverse political correctness in my opinion. They both got 30 years I said about 20. That was a good result, but not as good as serving their time in a Polish prison…

  21. Magnolia
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the long comment.
    Over 10 years ago, my children’s primary school Head Teacher told me that the staff were not allowed to touch the children physically, even to give them a cuddle when they were crying.
    The danger, I suppose, is that they would be open to the charge of inappropriate touching or of favouring one child over another or even of encouraging weeping.
    Bad bruising and extreme thinness would be more likely to be noticed if the teacher physically touched a young child, by say putting their arm around them now and then.
    That Head retired soon after and said to me that the county would get the teachers that it deserved.
    This illustrates the extent and reach of the legislation of ordinary behaviour.
    When children all played out together then an odd one out would soon be asked some pertinent questions but children don’t mix like they used to. Another child must have asked about this tortured young child’s bruises or thinness, while in the playground, unless there was a complete language barrier. Children usually blab or blurt out things to adults at some point, especially when they’re worried about something which seems wrong.
    Was everyone just too frightened to get involved or were they uninterested and selfishly getting on with their own lives?
    Community spirit needs nurturing and the friendliness of neighbourhoods is variable.
    That’s why I believe that localism and the Big Society are part of this whole process and they can be a force for good.
    I would like schools to be open 24 hours a day (staffed by volunteers and parents if necessary) as a place of safety for any child to run to.
    It needn’t matter if the child cannot explain why they’ve run there. The act of running itself should give society a right to question matters at home. A four year old in a strange country might not be able to ring ChildLine but they might be able to run to school.
    It’s terrible to think that there was no bossy, interfering, busy body do-gooder neighbour for this boy to run to.

  22. Bert Young
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    This shocking case reveals how inadequate the various services were associated with the boy . The background and records of the parents were never integrated into the gathering of information . Whether the fault lay with Social Services or with the teachers at his school should be looked at very carefully . The Police must have known about the previous criminal record of the father and this alone should have triggered off warning signals . Heads must roll .

  23. Mark B
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    This poor little soul was not the first to suffer and will not be the last.

    There has undoubtedly been a failure. And those who failed this child must also be sanctioned. I do not want to keep hearing, “mistakes have been made and lessons will be learned”, only for that not be the case.

    As for the BBC, they have their ‘political agenda’. The sooner our kind host and his colleagues in Parliament realise this the better.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      @Mark B: “As for the BBC, they have their ‘political agenda’.

      As does all media outlets, the sooner the right (and left) wing realise this the better, and the sooner the really important debate can start…

  24. They work for Us
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    This was a terrible case, compounded by a parent who should have been expelled from the country long ago by his criminality.

    I agree with the death penalty, particularly for cases like this, both parents. Just like the old days, one automatic appeal with execution withing say 4 months of sentence. A binding referendum on this issue is urgent and necessary. If politicians can’t hack this issue they should stand down. There “conscience” should not prevail against the opposing view of a majority of the electors. Yes! many people are irredeemable, lets be rid of them.

    On the subject of Social Workers, Teachers etc these are no longer proper professions in which the members are free to exercise their professional judgement unhindered by “Management Policy”. Managers hate professionals because they like to exercise strong control over them – particularly when the manager could not do the professional’s job and it is not at all clear what benefit there is in having the manager at all. Quote from Health and Safety “You did not follow the written procedure” answer I wrote the procedure (for the less knowledgeable) and I am the leading expert in this field”. Managerialasim in all its forms is a plague.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      @TWFU: “I agree with the death penalty, particularly for cases like this, both parents. Just like the old days, one automatic appeal with execution withing say 4 months of sentence.

      One appeal might not uncover perjury, bad evidence, scientific errors etc, but so what if the wrong person is killed, just so long as it’s not you or I, what say you TWFU?…

      Oh and the death penalty doesn’t prevent such crimes anyway, one only has to look at the USA were the death penalty is used quite liberally in many states.

  25. Kenneth
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    As always in these situations my first thought is “where is the rest of the family”.

    Where were the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc?

    I deplore the atomisation of families and the resulting loss of self-policing.

    I believe successive governments are largely to blame for forging relationships with individuals and bypassing the family as a whole.

    Perhaps it is not a matter of too few resources, but too many resources. Perhaps, if the state did less, we would do more.

    I think that the more the state does the less caring we become and more self-centred we become.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      @Kenneth: “I think that the more the state does the less caring we become and more self-centred we become.

      Quite the opposite in my experience.

  26. Kenneth
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    John, you state above:

    “In a recent BBC interview we were as always directed to resources, to local authority budgets and priorities”.

    In fact the BBC made this statement on air today at 2:25pm.

    “We need more social workers, we desperately do”

    That statement was made by Anita Anand on BBC Radio 4 on “Any Answers” (today Saturday 3rd August)

    I do not agree with the BBC on this and feel that too much state intervention may be making the problem worse. I do not accuse left wing organisations like the BBC of being uncaring but I feel their policies lead to an uncaring and ultimately dangerous environment for vulnerable people.

    Mind you, I’d prefer that the BBC did not make these statements at all

  27. Monty
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    In a way, it does not surprise me that with all these designated professionals, this kind of tragedy still happens.

    I work in the private sector, in a commercial enterprise. There are designated resources available to me for my daily work. So far, so good, but there are two sides to every coin.

    There is a purchasing department to buy in all our supplies. What that means, is that I am not allowed to purchase anything, even if we are in a tight spot. The department is both a facility for purchasing, and a roadblock.
    Same for the IT department. They are there to keep my computer configured with appropriate software, updates, and networked regular backups. They are also there to stop me from ever doing that. Sackable offence.

    And I suspect something similar happens with regard to social work. They are there to monitor the safety and welfare of children, and intervene where appropriate, according to their own procedures. But they are also there to stop you doing it, as a concerned neighbour, or relative, you have no provenance and any intervention from you is liable to bring you under suspicion. If next door’s cat is starving, you can put food out for him. If their child is starving, and you start slipping him a bit of money every day for chips, you’re headed for a whole world of pain.

  28. English Pensioner
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve little faith in social workers since I had a “run in ” with them some 30 years ago about my elder daughter. I’m also aware of a couple of other cases where I have grave doubts about the judgement of social workers based on my knowledge of the families involved. Check lists and theory are all very well, but can’t possibly cover every situation. I feel that no one should work in child protection unless they have had children of their own and so have some experience as to how children behave.

  29. Anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    The lack of resources that the BBC complains about is bound to get worse.

    It takes 47 minimum wage workers to pay for the keep of one prisoner. This is not including the costs of trial, police investigation, NHS and wider damage to the communities involved.

  30. Alte Fritz
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Forty years on from Maria Colwell’s death, evil still walks among us. It always will, but the box ticking mentality which has overtaken every bit of the state guarantees that there will be another Daniel, then another and another. We might also look at how drug use now seems to figure in every such case.

  31. peter davies
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I don’t know the story or even want to know. Nothing worse than stories of young kids like this.

    Could this be a knock on effect of far too high recent immigration meaning that the knock on effect is overwhelmed public servants now unable to cope and therefore not able to allocate proper time to spot cases like this?

  32. Neil Craig
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Almost every time this happens it turns out the mother is in a relationship with somebody who is not the child’s father.

    (Says a male who is not the father may have worse intent than thhe natural father ed)

    Meanwhile “social workers” ignore these dangerous people, choosing the safer option of taking nearly 100,000 kids from non-threatening families into “care” (as Booker has so often pointed out). In terms of bureaucratic evolution this is also predictable – they need all these children in “care” (where we regularly find they are abused) to justify the expansion of their bureaucracies.

    Another way of expanding their power is ensuring the real fathers’ access to their own kids is prevented or minimised.

  33. Anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry to respond so late in this thread. It has taken a long while for my thoughts to properly form on this matter and distil my deep unease with the situation.

    What no-one has (or will) mention here is that one of the perpetrators was a convicted criminal who would not – under any reasonable regime – have been allowed stay in this country.

    An innocent and helpless British subject died at his hands.

    I have to make this point anonymously. Others here dare not mention this obvious fact or have have been conditioned not to consider it – it gets little or no mention. Nor from you, Mr Redwood.

    This may well explain the paralysis among professionals surrounding the case; perhaps they feared criticising people of a minority culture – (etc ed).

    Let’s hope that this heart rending case does not take us the way of airport security. Where everyone is treated as a suspect, resources are wasted and innocent people targeted for the sake of a tiny minority.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      And that is my point.

      The sensitive tone of my prose which remains visible was consistent throughout the part which you edited.

      I feel we’re getting to the nub of how such tragic things as this murder could happen – especially when we have to be so careful about what we say these days.

  34. David
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Maybe if we checked if people coming into the UK were fleeing justice from their own country, then Daniel’s stepfather would have been sent to trial in Poland a few years ago and he would still be alive.
    (Even if people want completely free immigration surely they don’t want wanted criminals fleeing him).

  35. David
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    PS I agree 100% with the tone of the post. It is strange that the school didn’t do more, from the media he seemed to be very hungry and thin. For 4 years old that is a very unusual combination (all my sons friends are either not interested in food or not thin).

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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