From The Telegraph this week ...
A team of social workers accused a mother of abusing her baby son, when in fact he was suffering from a rare bone disease.
Parents Paul Crummey and Amy Garland were horrified when doctors told them their baby son, Harrison, had eight fractures in his arms and legs just weeks after he was born. But they were devastated when social workers accused them of shaking their son by the legs and took him and their daughter Bethany, now five, into care.
The terrified couple were arrested, and banned from seeing their two children without supervision. It took 18 months for social workers and doctors to realise baby Harrison was suffering from a rare form of brittle bone disease meaning the slightest touch could snap his bones in two. Now, the family, from Bristol, have been reunited, after prosecutors decided to drop the case when they realised Harrison was suffering from Osteogenesis imperfecta.
The nightmare began when Harrison was just six weeks old. Miss Garland, 26, said: "For the first weeks he was bringing up blood with his milk and he was irritable. I knew something wasn't right so I took him to the hospital. They did tests on him but everything came back absolutely normal."
But when she got home she noticed his legs were swollen. X-rays later showed Harrison had several fractures in his arm, feet and legs. Miss Garland said: "We obviously had no idea that this condition was in our family so when they asked us how they happened we were left with the answer that we didn't know. They said they needed to investigate it and we were happy for them to do that." Tests showed Harrison's vitamin D levels were abnormally low so he was given injections.
As soon as the fractures were discovered, South Gloucestershire Social Services were called in to speak to the couple. Police arrested Miss Garland while she was in hospital with Harrison and Mr Crummey, who was recovering from an operation at home, was also arrested. They were questioned separately under caution by police. Neither of them had been in any sort of trouble before.
"The police and social services asked us a lot of questions. They asked me if there was any family history of violence," said Miss Garland. "We found out the police were speaking to all our neighbours asking them what we were like. They went through our house. I was in absolute shock. I was shaking. I felt like a criminal," she said.
While Harrison was in hospital, Miss Garland was not allowed to be alone with her son. "I wasn't eating and I couldn't sleep because I was worried they would take him from me," she said. "Paul and I weren't allowed to be alone together. I never for one second questioned Paul. Neither of us needed to ask each other. We just knew."
At the time, Bethany was just 20-months-old and was placed in the care of Miss Garland's father. The case was brought before Bristol County Court, where a judge ordered the family to live in a family placement centre. "The judge didn't want to separate me from Harrison because I was still breast feeding," the mother said. "We were watched 24 hours a day and there were cameras in every room. It was like a prison because even when we were allowed to go out we had to have staff with us."
After three months, staff could find nothing wrong and recommended the family should stay together. But social workers applied for an interim care order and the children were placed into foster care with their grandfather. They were only allowed to see the children for six hours each day under supervision for over a year.
"It was horrible. When I went home at night and the kids weren't there, I just broke down," said Miss Garland. "There was so much going on in our lives. We were a mess. We took things out on each other."
In January 2009, Miss Garland found a medical expert who believed Harrison had Osteogenesis imperfecta after looking into the family's medical history. Six months later, the two other doctors involved in the case agreed he could have the condition after reading the expert's report. South Gloucestershire Social Services then dropped their case. A month later, Harrison was diagnosed with Osteogenesis imperfecta. Doctors also tested Bethany, who was found to have a lesser type of the condition. Harrison is still having vitamin D injections to help strengthen his bones and sees a physiotherapist to help build the muscle surrounding his bones.
Mr Crummey, 41, said: "All we wanted to do was help our sick child but we were treated like criminals. We had to sit and watch Harrison in pain. We've missed out on so much of our children's lives. They've been through so much. It tore Amy and I apart because we didn't know how to handle it. We've never received an apology from social services. It makes me feel very angry."
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: "While we cannot comment on individual cases, we do have a legal duty to protect children and young people living in South Gloucestershire and we always put the welfare of the child at the heart of how we deliver our services."
The GOS says: For God's sake, will these people never learn?
Knee-jerk reactions have no place in public life. Hiding behind weasel words like “legal duty to protect children” doesn't even begin to excuse them from the duty that should apply to all officials, to deal with the public on the basis of rationality and humanity, to make sure they have all the relevant facts before they act, and to keep themselves up to date on previous case history.
We expect our teachers to undergo frequent retraining, we expect police officers to have up to date and relevant knowledge of the law, we expect doctors to have a wide knowledge of recent developments in their specialisms, so why are we saddled with social workers who can't be bothered to read the papers and know what has happened in other local authorities, or to recognise that there are frequently perfectly innocent explanations for injuries to children?
Because this has all happened before, hasn't it? With the most tragic consequences, too, though only for the children and parents involved, not for the social workers and doctors who acted with criminal stupidity and arrogance.
I am referring, of course, to the dreadful (and very well publicised) case of Mark and Nicky Hardingham who had their three children taken from them by Norfolk Social Services because one of them had suspicious fractured bones. Despite the fact that the child was suffering from Brittle Bones, which ran in the family, all three children were sent for adoption and were lost to their parents for ever. To compound the evil cruelty, Nicky Hardingham then fell pregnant and had to flee to Ireland or that child would have been snatched as soon as it was born.
We wrote several times about this case – go here and follow the links.
Oh, and the first person to send us an email containing the words “damned if they do, damned if they don't”, gets a parcel of dog poo through their letterbox. We have the technology (and a dog). There's no excuse for sloppy thinking and ignorance where children's lives are concerned, and it's time our Social Services and the Family Courts realised it.
Bastards. Lazy bastards.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2011 The GOS