Posted by: njs44 | January 25, 2010

The Doncaster problem

As I was reading about the tragic story of the Edlington case, I found this article as worrying as any other on the subject –  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/22/edlington-furore-council-in-crisis

It is not so much that Doncaster council is in chaos, as that it points to the complexities of running any organisation and how poorly equipped those in charge seem to be at managing their tasks. Is this because we ask too much of people in charge? Is it that no ordinary human being can hope to be able to juggle quite so many balls in the air at once? Is it because people are afraid to admit that they need more help, or are afraid to be given the sack if they complain?

The trouble is that the reaction to such catastrophes often seems to be to create more legislation. This may be in the form of actual laws, such as making changes to firearms legislation after Dunblane, or in the introduction of policies such as Child Protection rules. Such policies, while made with good intentions, do not always allow people to use their common sense.

On Saturday while shopping we noticed a child crying because she had lost her Auntie. My instinct was to talk to her and try to offer reassurance while the shop staff organised an announcement. My shopping companion, a teacher with more experience of current policies than I have, told me it was best to leave it to the shop staff as they don’t know that both of us have been CRB checked. Of course the shop staff were able to cope, and hopefully the children (the little girl had her bewildered brother with her) were soon reunited with their grown-ups. I felt sad, however, that an opportunity for some simple human kindness was denied me, even though I fully understand the reasons.

When I was at Primary School our teacher told us that rules were made for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men. I wish we could all be wise men, but at the same time, the rules don’t always help the fools either.

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