By Ben Leapman, Daily Telegraph 17/09/2007
A dramatic rise in the number of newborn babies seized by social workers for forced adoption has failed to reduce the murder rate among babies.
Despite the action by social services, intended to protect children at high risk, the number of deaths has actually grown.
Critics claimed that the figures showed that social workers were tearing apart innocent families, while failing to protect babies at the greatest risk.
The concerns will add fresh weight to The Sunday Telegraph’s “Stop the Secrecy” campaign for greater openness in family courts. At present, judges sit in secret when deciding adoption cases, raising fears that miscarriages of justice go unnoticed.
Earlier this year, the Government abandoned plans to let the media publish anonymised reports on cases.
In 1995, when 540 newborns were removed for adoption, there were 17 murders in which the victim was less than a year old. A decade later, in 2005/6, 1,400 were taken, yet the murder total rose to 24.
Liz Davies, senior lecturer in social work at London Metropolitan University, claimed the failures were due to new techniques introduced following the murder of Victoria Climbie.
“Performance targets and the tick-box culture are undermining professional judgement,” she said.
In a separate development, ministers announced that 30 English councils shared a payout of £18 million this year for meeting Government targets to increase adoptions.
Critics say the targets give social workers an incentive to take away children who would be better off with their natural parents.