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Lessons have been, will be, are being learned…maybe

[5 Nov 2014] The impersonal-passive mantra of choice for officials who have cocked something up, ‘lessons have been learned’, has had several fresh outings in recent months. On 6 October, West Midlands Police promised that ‘lessons will be learned’ after the homicidal maniac Harry Street was locked up again, probably for the final time. He had killed five people in the 1970s, was released from Broadmoor ‘under supervision’ in 1993, and then used his freedom to wage a campaign of terror with an arsenal of weapons against anyone who happened to live near him. The police didn’t arrest him or search his house for several years because – cunning plan, this – he changed his name to conceal his real identity.

Meanwhile, the mantra has been taken to new heights by the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, after much-loved local teacher Ann McGuire was stabbed to death by William Cornick, a 15-year-old student, in April. The board has announced a ‘Learning Lessons Review’ and has a web page dedicated to such reviews, complete with the acronym LLR. The board’s home page tells us it consists of ‘senior representatives of all the principle agencies’. So that would be ‘principal’, perhaps, or just ‘main’ if big words confuse these stellar folk. Yet another lesson to learn!

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