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News & views

Passives deployed by Rotherham thought police in foster-family row

[26 Nov 2012] Rotherham Council’s decision to remove three siblings of east European origin from their foster family because the mother and father are members of Ukip, a mainstream political party that wants a freeze on immigration and doesn’t like multiculturalism, has led many to ask how senseless, cruel and incompetent some social workers and councillors can get. (The answer being, ‘very’.)

Even the council said the foster parents’ work with the children was exemplary and culturally sensitive, but this counted for nothing after a busybody alerted the thought police of the social services department that appropriate political views had gone missing from the household. The Labour-run council has staunchly defended its actions as being in the children’s best interests, but has now begun an inquiry after the story led most UK news bulletins for a day.

Friends of the impersonal passive can expect to see a bumper crop of their favourite verb form in the inquiry report, if the council’s initial comments are anything to go by:

‘After a group of sibling children were placed with agency foster carers, issues were raised regarding the long-term suitability of the carers for these particular children. With careful consideration, a decision was taken to move the children to alternative care.’

Perfect! No ownership of any of the actions.

It will soon be time for the council to churn out all the other obscurantist passives that cover-your-backside politics require: ‘lessons have been learned’, ‘mistakes were made’, ‘all correct procedures were followed’, ‘some inappropriate actions were taken by a junior member of staff’, ‘no member of staff has been disciplined’, and – probably – ‘staff who have been subjected to inappropriate press comment will be offered counselling and a pay rise’.

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