Former director of social services in Wiltshire Ray Jones hopes his new book on the Baby P scandal will expose the destabilising effects the case’s coverage had on child protection in England.
Trowbridge resident Dr Jones, a professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, explores the effects of the case in The Story of Baby P: Setting the Record Straight.
Peter Connelly, commonly known in the media as Baby P, was only 17 months old child when he died in the London Borough of Haringey in August 2007 following a catalogue of abuse and neglect.
The book, which was published on Wednesday, explains how the story created by press and politicians caused enormous damage to the public perception of people who work to protect children.
Dr Jones, who was director of social services in the county from 1992-2006, said: “I have been involved in child protection for over 40 years and I became a frequent media commentator as the story unfolded.
“I quickly became concerned about how the story was being shaped and the vilification of social workers. They were made to feel vulnerable and encountered more and more hostility.
“The media witch-hunt also made it difficult to recruit social workers for frontline children protection and under- mined the child protection system to an extent where I now believe it is close to breakdown.
“This led me to write the book as I thought it was important to set the record straight, as someone who followed the case closely from the outset, and to examine what has happened because of the way the story was told.”
The book, which features a foreword by The Guardian’s social policy editor Patrick Butler, also looks at the extensive behind-the-scenes links between the press, politicians and police revealed during the Leveson Inquiry.
Dr Jones also examines how The Sun’s Campaign for Justice only succeeded in bringing a small number of social workers to the foreground and subjected them to harassment and intense scrutiny.