Bear with me on this one please.
These three children are dead. They were found in an Edinburgh flat on Wednesday and their mother is said to have jumped from a balcony and sustained serious injuries.
Their parents, Theresa and Pasquale Riggi (both American). were involved in a bitter divorce battle and their mother was due to attend court on Tuesday for a hearing regarding the case. She didn't attend.
The mother and the children went missing on 4 July from the family home at Skene near Aberdeen. The husband had moved out of the house and was staying at a flat in Aberdeen. He didn't find out until 11 July that his wife and the children had left and called police to report them missing. Ports and airports were alerted in case the mother tried to leave the country with the children. Grampian police issued a missing persons appeal on 16 July.
Then, on 21 July, Lothian and Borders officers traced the mother and the children to the flat in Slateford Road, Edinburgh where Wednesday's tragedy unfolded. At that point, it was a simple missing persons inquiry. A police spokesman said: "Officers attended the address and found the family safe and well on 21 July."
That's what is known until last Tuesday, when at the Court, after the husband had spoken to his wife by phone, his lawyer told Lady Clark, who was the judge at the hearing, that Mr Riggi had concerns about his children. Mr Riggi's lawyer said there was a real emergency and Lady Clark obviously concurred with his statement. She asked court officials to find the children and said social workers should supervise them. She also stated that the social workers should apply to a local sheriff for child protection orders if they felt they were necessary.
That was Tuesday.
Edinburgh City Council said their social workers had no reason to get involved with the family before Lady Clark made her order. They said in a statement: "We received a phone call yesterday afternoon (I suspect that was Tuesday although the article is not clear) from lawyers regarding the court proceedings involving the family.
"The court's ruling was then faxed through to us at 15.05. Was this on the Tuesday or Wednesday? "In this fax we were asked to assist with the family's situation if and when they were found by the messenger at arms representing the court." By that time it was too late.
The police knew where the mother and children were yet they weren't informed of the court order.
What has gone wrong with the communication between these agencies who are supposed to protect us? Why are courts using a fax system for information when there are so many systems available these days and yet a phone call didn't seem important? Taxpayers spend billions on services such as justice, police and social workers. Government appears to have personal details on each and every one of us.
We hear so much verbosity from these agencies about how they communicate and will 'learn lessons'. I've no wish to attribute blame to anyone, yet it's deeply concerning that a phone call and a fax to the local council appears to be enough for these agencies to will no doubt, eventually, blame each other.
I can remember the days when police knew everything and we didn't have social workers - or not those who are called social workers these days. These were the days when home schooling had never been heard of, yet this mother insisted her children were home school and the father protested. These were the days when a court order was acted upon immediately by the police. But now it appears it has to initially go to the local council. Why? I suspect some left-thinking labour politician here in Scotland thought up a reason which the courts lapped up.
Surely, if children don't attend school the relevant social work authority should be on red alert? Then again, none of our regular services seems to come under the regulations set for the military. Why can't lessons be learnt? Because our law enforcers are charged with teaching them.
Update: I have been accused of denigrating home education (see comments). My use of the words 'red alert' regarding social work authorities was in connection with this particular case when allegedly the children and their mother had earlier become listed as missing persons. It's my opinion that social work too should have been informed they were missing regardless of whether they were state educated, privately educated or home educated. Also I was not aware the law had been changed regarding home education. I know years ago home educators and the children were monitored on a regular basis - usually to provide the parent with updates from educational developments which they may have missed. There was no internet in those days.
This post is not about home education, it's about the agencies involved in this case and their procedures which were totally inadequate. There's no excuse in today's society for this inefficiency. I can hear the relevant agencies saying 'lessons will be learned'. They never are.