Baby P trial sparks rise in Trust’s child cases

The number of children referred to social services in the South Eastern Trust has doubled since the death of Baby P in 2007 — and figures are expected to climb even higher this year.

According to Trust figures, the number of children referred to social services this year will jump to over 5,000, from 3,737 in 2006/07.

The figures have come to light as it emerged the number of number of children on the child protection register in Northern Ireland has jumped by 20%.

The number of children on the register in the South Eastern Trust has also risen since 2006/07, from 431, with projected figures for the current year standing at 608 — a 41% increase following the scandal which arose from the handling of the Baby P case by Haringey Council.

Peter Connelly, also known as Baby P, was just 17-months-old when he died in London after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period, during which he was repeatedly seen by social services.

Haringey Council came under fire during the subsequent media storm with the head of the council’s children’s services, Ulster-born Sharon Shoesmith, losing her job.

Anne Marie Dooey, a 24-year-old social worker employed by the South Eastern Trust, spoke about the challenges facing her profession amid an unprecedented number of children being referred to social services.

“I suppose becoming a social worker was about getting a job where I could help people and work with different people and children,” she said.

“I didn’t want to do an office-based job so when I left school I did a degree in social work at Queen’s.

“I was aware of the negative views about the profession but I don’t think I realised the degree |of negativity until I got into the job.

”You never know what reception you are going to get when you first make contact.

“It is about building up trust so you can work with people and the longer you are in the job the more confident you become and better able to get across that you are there to help the children.”