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It is difficult not to have some sympathy with front-line social workers, who have a thankless task, and an ever-increasing workload. The death of little Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has highlighted this phenomena yet again. However it is equally difficult not to feel anger, resentment and some irritation at the lessons not learned, from similar tragedies. How can a child have ‘more than 130 bruises’ and be ‘emaciated when he died’ but then this goes un-noticed by front-line social workers?

A need to ‘cut corners’ is often associated with a perception of ‘too much work’. The answer of course means that there needs to be enough ‘boots on the ground’ who can ‘do the job properly’. Put more formally, it is essential that Local Authority Children’s Services Departments have in place detailed safeguarding procedures which must then be matched with sufficient resources, including supervisory resources.

It is in these particular circumstances that any ‘review’ has to be more than a perfunctory exercise which merely pays lip-service to any substantive steps which need to be taken. Unfortunately, more than once, in relation to matters of this nature, we’ve been faced with a long list of Recommendations which are then studiously ignored over the following months, if not years.

The government has announced ‘a single national review’ which ‘will not rest until we have all the answers we need’. The Education Secretary has also asked high-ranking officials in social care, health, police and probation to urgently investigate the safeguarding agencies to whom little Arthur was known.

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