No surprise over football club abuse, says Sharon Shoesmith

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The social services boss at the heart of the Baby P scandal has said no social workers are surprised that child abuse has taken place at football clubs.

Sharon Shoesmith warned of a culture of "denying crimes against children", with politicians instead looking to blame the social work profession.

The former director of children's services for the London borough of Haringey also hit out at senior politicians in the fallout from Peter Connelly's death, accusing the likes of Ed Balls and David Cameron of "trading in untruths".

She told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "There's not a social worker in the country who's been surprised that there's been child abuse within the football coaching regimes, and yet we don't talk about it.

"They are quiet about these things. I would never really have talked in any depth when I was a director of children's services about children's social care, and what the challenges were in a place like Haringey.

"I would never have done that, because you just didn't have the confidence to do it."

Peter Connelly died in 2007 after months of abuse at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and his brother.

He had more than 50 injuries, despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.

His mother Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker, and his brother Jason Owen were jailed in May 2009 for causing or allowing the child's death.

Ms Shoesmith was sacked from Haringey council after the death, but the Court of Appeal later ruled she had been unfairly dismissed.

She has since been paid nearly £700,000 in compensation by the council.

Ms Shoesmith said she was "utterly stunned" to be sacked, only finding out when she watched then children's secretary Ed Balls in a press conference on television.

She added that then opposition leader David Cameron's opportunism "kicked this whole thing off", while her book around the events accuses Mr Cameron, Mr Balls and Gordon Brown of " trading in untruths" and ignoring the complexity of the case.

She told the programme: "You can't tell me that Cameron, Balls and Brown didn't know the incidents of familial child homicide. They knew what they were dealing with."

She added: "Fifty-seven other children died the same year as Peter Connelly.

"If you think back to that storm that blew up, there is absolutely no way that Ed Balls could have gone on the television and said 'now hang on, 57 other children have died in the same way this year as Peter'.

"That would have been tantamount to his own resignation, wouldn't it, because it's so far away from the public knowledge of what happens to children.

"He has to go and provide certainty, 'we'll make sure this never happens again', and indeed by the time they were saying that, something like another 50, 60 children had died in the same way.

"So they had to give the public certainty, which again is feeding this whole narrative of denial and denial."

She added that vilification of social workers had become "embedded in our culture", and there was "a really pressing need out there for people to understand crimes against children".

Ms Shoesmith also criticised emails between senior civil servants, which she said spoke about "how they're going to cover up information that would actually go against that narrative that we were to blame, and how they would brief Ed (Balls) when he faced the media so that he didn't let some of this step slip".

She also said an Ofsted report into Haringey's children's services was "the greatest shock of all", given it had been through 17 drafts and ended up being edited by Ofsted's top team and not by inspectors who visited Haringey council.