Cllr Abraham: ‘no child deaths’ ‘most important thing’ about damning child protection report

Cllr Abraham said that no children dying while in the care of the council’s child protection services was the most important thing when considering the council’s ‘inadequate’ in all areas rating by Ofsted.

child on steps

At last night’s full council meeting, Barry Abraham, the ward councillor for Wootton Bridge gave his view on the damning ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report over child protection, which had been released the day before.

He was speaking in support of Cllr Dawn Cousins, cabinet member for Children and Young People, who had just finished defending the council in response to the report.

Cllr Abraham was quick to jump to Cllr Cousins’ defence, saying, “I am glad that Cllr Cousins isn’t going to resign” adding that “she is the person that can make a difference and improve it.”

‘No child deaths’
He went on to say, “as serious as this has been, there have been no child deaths on the Isle of Wight and I think that has to be borne in mind. I think that is the most important thing here.”

Cllr Abraham’s comment was met with a considerable number of gasps from the public gallery (and press) as well as incredulity from the opposition.

Damning response from public
The response of readers was damning, one reader said, “‘No children died’ – that’s OK then, children can carry on being exposed to neglect, abuse and mental cruelty that scars for life.”

Whilst another said, “Nice to know that if I don’t let anyone die, I can keep my job regardless how badly I do” going on to say, “with the bar already set so low, they’ve got nothing to lose I guess.”

One reader added, “Oh well that’s alright then! Is there a sliding scale of number of deaths before someone resigns?” adding, “I think it shows how detached from reality they have become. This is a deeply concerning report and that is their best response.”

Facebook response
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Barry Abraham: No child deaths

Storified by On The Wight· Thu, Jan 17 2013 02:22:34

Oh well that’s alright then!!!!!!! outrageous comment…..detached from reality I would say……….Tina Lukowitz Wroath
Am speechless .Paul Newton
Conservatives – delighted not to be quite Victorian.Thomas Cowley
That is quite frankly outrageous! So if they get abused it’s okay but if they die it isn’t? Well, that’s okay then!Jo Jeremy Burch
Disgusting!! Just cos some innocent children who weren’t getting the correct protection haven’t died its all dandy?! What a joke!Kelly White
the disability team are a shambles so this doesn’t surprise me , made me rage when cameron said horse in burger is unacceptable , it is but hes quite happy for atos to put disabled people through a year of hell . waiting for tribunal .Stephen Smith
goes to show a complete lack of insight of how these children can be badly affected by their experiences! Said it before say it again outrageous and disgusting!Tina Lukowitz Wroath
This is exactly the attitude that has allowed significantly poor practice throughout the care system to become common place. If risk assessments are being compiled with the attitude ‘well its not ideal but they’re not likely to die so it’ll do’ it is not suprising the whole system is failing the children that are supposed to be cared for. The comment is disgraceful and for me enough to demonstrate that Cllr Abraham should not be in any position to contribute to any decision making. Time to stand down! Zoe Thompson
I cannot believe that our councillors can come out with such outrages excuses! We are not talking about how badly a factory has done or how retail sales have dropped etc. We are talking about the lives of children…..not whether or not they have a life but what kind of a life they have! Cllr Abraham would have been better keeping his mouth closed! Someone needs to take some kind of blame for this and there should be no one trying to make excuses!Marilyn Legg
SHOCKING!Dagmar Turner
so I guess "Inadequate in ALL areas" means what it means , especially when referring to those in charge.surely a report of "Inadequate in ALL areas" should be considered a VERY serious matter that really needs sorting out.MOST importantly needs to be accepted by those in charge as the truth that it’s not some rumour it’s an official report by experts, any councillor ignoring these disturbing facts should surely be replaced for negligence.Bruce Steers
As a foster carer I have seen the emotional/mental damage done to kids who have survived neglect and abuse. Their whole lives are ruined and unfortunately the cycle tends to repeat.Luisa Francesca H
Maybe if they took some more staff on it wouldn’t be so inadequate. I feel sorry for the social workers, they’re doing their best but are so understaffed its impossible for them so provide the service they are suppose to. And with the lack of foster carers on the iow, where are they suppose to put these ‘at risk’ children. Well done iow council, yet another poor service due to understaffing and lack of funding.Louise Bolton
So "not killing anyone" is now how we measure a job well done in this country is it? I’m gobsmacked.Leeroy TMofo
Should the council be neglected and abused…as long as we don’t let them die it’ll be excusable…Chris Gallop
I always try to defend the island when my mainland friends jest that "its all backwards over there". The council certainly seem to be doing their best to substantiate those claims. Truly shocking.Chris Gallop
I would have assumed "no children dying" is such an obvious base line it would even need mentioning!! Surely the very basic standard should be they are happy, healthy and safe?!?Sara Thompson
well i am glad to see such public outrage. its a shame that the same was not directed at a private sector provider who recently lost a client and he was knocked down and killed. the iw council and the croft residential home should be in court over their failings a vunlerable child or an adult makes no difference they all need protecting. inadequete staffing and a grandeous cavalier attitude should be their downfall.Lisa Thorner

Image: f_mafra under CC BY 2.0

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Thursday, 17th January, 2013 8:31am



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Youth

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. What an outrageous thing to say, where’s this man’s grip on reality? You say the opposite and public were shocked by it, what about his fellow Tory councilors? I’d like to know what areas of the council Mr Abraham is responsible for? Does he sit on any committees or panels?

  2. The same councillor had invoked a disturbing procedural curiosity (14?) in order to stifle debate earlier in the proceedings. It’s a real worry when ‘opposition’ councillors can be prevented from speaking by a block vote from the ruling group. :-s

  3. Is this guy for real?! What a shocking statement to make.

  4. Jake_Gully

    17.Jan.2013 9:41am

    Can only think he didn’t think that through – certainly a very foolish thing to say.

    It is very fortunate that we have not had a Baby P or Victoria Climbie case on the island. However this is patently due to luck rather than judgement. There is little doubt that a number of vulnerable children have been left in situations of neglect or abuse – the physical and emotional effects of which can only be guessed at.

    Is Dawn Cousins the right person to reform the service? I don’t know and can’t judge – but her attempts to divert the blame for the identified service failings on ‘a small group in specific areas'(, does not inspire confidence.

    The Ofsted report clearly says that service provision is ‘Inadequate in all areas’ – Yes this does include Leadership & Management and Overall service effectiveness.

    Stop trying to defend the indefensible and sort this out now.

  5. …… and this man is a member of the “Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Committee”! Just indicates how far up the management chain the incompetence has spread.

    Remember the IWC election is coming in a few months- or will Abraham join the other Tory councillors (including the Leader?) scurrying for cover before being humiliated by voters?

  6. Not only should Dawn Cousins resign but Cllr Abraham should also. Cllr Abrahams remarks were totally out of order and shows he has no concept of his role as a member of the cabinet of the IWC.
    Dawn Cousins is an ex-employee of the Social Services so she should have a clear insight of what her role is with regard to her portfolio, she has sadly failed big time.
    If the Leader of the Council had any gumption he would haul both of these councillors over the coals and dispense with their services forthwith.
    I am horrified at what is going on, each day we hear more and more disturbing news about our council and services, the Island that many of us love is not going to the dogs, it has gone in a few short years due to lack of experience by those in the ruling party and the Chief Executive and Senior Officers at the IWC.
    Well done Sally for highlighting last nights meeting, thank goodness we still have journalists that are willing to stand up and report openly and fully.

  7. Robert Jones

    17.Jan.2013 10:44am

    Whaaaaaat??? Thank your lucky stars Barry that no child DID die – what the Hell would you have said if several had?

    I have had big fallings-out with Dawn Cousins over the years, who is not one of life’s greatest listeners and is peculiarly sensitive to criticism: too much so for her own good given her political role. But I’ve always known she was the only councillor with more than a basic clue about social services, and it was obvious that she was horribly over-worked when trying to handle the entire social services brief, as she did until recently. Her colleagues simply loaded too heavy a load on her shoulders and left her to it. It would be much too easy to blame her now for failings in social services, which are long-standing and deep-rooted – but what is clear is that the Director himself has failed to get on top of those problems and apparently lacks the expertise to do so.

  8. mike starke

    17.Jan.2013 11:52am

    A former colleague was brought up in the East End alongside the Kray gangster gang. During a discussion on the atrocities committed by the gang in the 1960s, he commented: “Wot chew don’ realise is, vey wuz good ter deir muvver!”

    Cllr Barry Abraham would obviously have agreed, judging by his appalling statement on County Hall’s dismal childcare failures.

    Look on the bright side, though; when pre-election Tory literature drops on my doormat, I shall see nothing but my recollection of this week’s outrageous statement by Cllr Abraham, however much the glossy brochure seeks to rearrange the truth of the past eight years of mismanagement.

    I hope others will do the same as me, in large enough numbers to rid us of such folk.

  9. Jake_Gully

    17.Jan.2013 12:24pm

    IWCP finally in on the act, with a good report on Geoff Lumley’s calls for resignation –

    Unable to comment on this at present, a feature that seems to be less available at IWCP recently?

  10. willieswildworld

    17.Jan.2013 1:07pm

    Well to all those who voted this tory council in i bet you must be so proud of the disaster that is the IWC , how proud Cllr Barry Abraham’s words must make you feel. How delighted you must be to blame a few bad eggs in social services for this mess????
    Yes i have also heard it said that Cllr Cousins is very full of her own importance how else can you explain her failure in holding the upper tiers of management to account over the last few years since the introduction of the new model of work ……… its been such a great success ……NOT well let us pray and hope the electorate finally gets off its backside and votes this shambles out of power these people need to be run out of town . Surely on this Island there are enough good candidates to repair the damage caused to this island by years of mismanagement , maybe even a few people who remember that the council is supposed to serve the electorate !!!! or am I just wondering in vain ?

  11. Does this man have a clue about this subject or does he just act as a support worker for councillors under attack?
    Does he have no clue about the physical and Psychological damage done to abused children? Is it OK to abuse children and harm them just as long as they don’t die?
    As for the current trend of ‘buck passing’ as a way to defend the indefensible… why not just do as you are TOLD and protect the children??? Maybe an abusive parent or relative can escape further action by simply stating that someone else was responsible (despite documented proof of their culpability) which may explain the disgusting and damning judgement of the report!
    We have seen a great deal of this behaviour of late and it MUST be time for these people to stand up and DO the job WE pay them to do!!
    The comments about the excessive work load hold no water with me, surely a good manager owes it to his/her employer to DELEGATE and to ensure the primary role is given priority at ALL time.
    If existing child protection staff are unable or unwilling to do their job then it is only right that they are removed or that more are employed! The costs involved with spending 10-20 years dealing with damaged children are phenominal when compared to a salary for a dedicated person to prevent the damage in the first place.
    I despair of this council!

    • willieswildworld

      17.Jan.2013 3:20pm

      The comments about the excessive work load are relevant as this demonstrates that the management have no understanding of what the workface looks like ,it sounds like davimel has a similar lack of the reality of the day to day work at the work face

  12. Barry Abrahams is a disgrace. I could hardly believe what I was listening to last night.

    I thought it was bad enough when, in answer to Geoff Lumley’s very pertinent observations during the ‘Poll Tax’ er, sorry, Council Tax debate, the very wealthy George Brown went on to say that second home owners should be valued and not discriminated against whilst not even mentioning the unemployed or the poor. Does he even know what it’s like to struggle on anything near dole money or the minimum wage? I think not. He wont be missed after the election.

  13. CRASS comments by Cllr Abraham.Resign NOW.
    You are not a fit person to sit as a councillor or on any Scrutiny panel that purports to “Safeguard Children”
    Have you no empathy at all,have you not heard the heartfelt sorrows of Adults who were abused by Saville and for some, even 30+ years on they can still recall how this SYSTEMIC abuse has impacted on their relationships and lives.They weren’t killed but some have commited suicide or even now have severe Mental Health problems.
    “Your defence of a colleague only highlights the flaws of the Elected Council to serve and regulate the protection of our most vulnerable Children and Young People.”
    I make this statement because it prompted me to research the Local Safeguarding boards website.
    There you will find 2 recent serious case reviews printed for public perusal.
    The first review commisioned following the death of a 30day old baby in August 2007 was Judged by Ofstead as being INADEQUATE when submitted in 2009.
    Subsequently an independent review as a follow up was commisioned and the recomendations seem to me to follow a pattern around regular supervision of S/W staff Case Audits and better working relationships with Frontline services.
    Another Serious Case Review was held and published on 21/09/10.This was in regard to another tragic case involving a Baby with multiple non accidental fractures.
    Has anyone at Director of Social Care level/Senior Management level or Holder of the Portfolio of Childrens services ever read it?
    The answers in the Recommendations of this SCR make it very clear for the NEED for ;
    1 Regular S/W supervision to take place.
    2 A Monthly file audit to be carried out by Team
    Manager on every open case.
    3 Three Monthly File Audits to be carried out by Senior Management.
    4 And Regular Random File Audits to be carried out by Head of Service.
    Obviously this hasn’t been carried out as reccomended and agreed and has clearly been picked up by Ofstead as being a Failing and Inadequate pratice.
    There wouldn’t have been a need to review 700 cases as Claimed if good monitoring procedures had been followed!!

    Ofstead are correct.IT IS INADEQUATE and places Children at Risk.
    You can’t spin your way out of FACTS or NEGLECT of your duty to a Task .
    Even Malcom Tucker would stuggle to escape this disgraceful debacle!!

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