Sunday, 11 August 2013
Sunday 11 August 2013

Families are torn apart, but others are free to kill

A family has been split up because a teacher misinterpreted one trivial incident

Daniel Pelka was murdered by his mother Magdelena Luczak and her partner Mariusz Krezolek. As in other cases, the warning signs were there
British social workers are being overzealous with some families, but failed to catch the case of Daniel Pelka Photo: PA
Tolstoy famously wrote, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. What is is striking about all the examples of families being torn apart by social workers for no good reason that I report on, is how each may be bizarre in its own way, but how in other respects, they all reflect a similar general pattern.
Last year, for instance, I wrote about a French mother who brought her three young daughters to London for a short holiday with their father, from whom she was amicably divorced, and who lived here with his daughter from a former relationship. The day before she and her girls were due to return to France, she was having a bath while her ex-husband was downstairs cutting his eldest daughter’s hair. Accidentally, he slightly cut the girl’s head, drawing blood. When this was noticed by a teacher at school, the social workers were called in. The girl was taken into care and her father was arrested and charged with “assault, neglect and ill-treatment”.
Incomprehensibly, his other children were also then taken into care and his ex-wife was charged with “failing to protect” the older girl, even though she had been upstairs at the time. Found guilty, she was given a suspended sentence, but her
ex-husband was sent to prison for three years. The mother has stayed in London for 21 months in the hope of getting her children back, although within two weeks of her arrest, the social workers were already drawing up a plan for them to be adopted. Contact with her children has steadily dwindled, although the girls, who are in foster care (costing us all £60,000 a year), are apparently miserable and baffled as to why they cannot return home to France. Now the council is asking the courts for all contact with their mother to be stopped.
So one family is torn apart because a teacher misinterpreted one trivial incident, setting this whole tragedy in train. But when teachers recorded how four-year-old Daniel Pelka was being turned into a bruised “bag of bones” by the abuse he was suffering at home, Coventry’s social workers were nowhere to be seen. Is it surprising that our “child-protection” system is becoming a major national scandal?