I did not attend the court, and have to rely on the reporting of the 'Daily Mail', which is a broken reed at the best of times. But I seem to have obtained quite a different view of the matter to that of most of the commentators here...
The first point to make is that the headline of the Mail's piece and the data in the text seem to be a bit at odds. The headline talks about 'parents walking free', a point which is duly seized upon by our esteemed blogger:
"...North Somerset social workers fail in their duty and thereby fail to prevent a crime, whereupon the criminals are spared the full penalty for their crimes...This surely has to be wrong. Crimes must be punished. The point must be that, if the regulators' neglect enabled or exacerbated the crime, then the responsibility is shared. The issue has then to be that the regulators are also penalised - not that the criminals are let off..."
And yet the 'criminals' were not let off. They pleaded guilty, and received two-year community orders each. You may respond that this seems pretty close to being let off for a child cruelty case, so let us look at what evidence the Mail provides us with.
'The child's father is in his twenties and her mother is in her thirties, but their names were not released to protect the baby.
Judge Ticehurst told the father: "You clearly were far too young and not able to look after your child.That child suffered considerable neglect due to your inability to care for her. But in my view you and your partner were let down by the social services, who have a duty to provide for you. In my judgement it would be quite wrong to impose anything other than a community order, for you to get the help and support you need." '
What is going on here? 'Too young' in his twenties? Not ABLE to look your child? Let down by the social services who have a duty to care for YOU? This doesn't sound like the stereotypical evil parent who beats their child to sleep every night. Let's read further...
"...social worker Sara Matty had seen the baby's mother at her home in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and noted she had learning difficulties.
The father also had learning difficulties, and it was noted that he appeared to be 'a bit clumsy' with the baby and 'inappropriate and childlike' in his handling of her..."
Ah! That makes sense. We are not talking about evil criminals at all here. We are talking about a couple with mental disabilities, to an extent where they were not able to care properly for the child they had. A tragic tale, certainly. Perhaps they should not have had a child. But it seems that it was the PARENTS who depended on the social services for support, and that it was the social services failure to provide this that led to the damage to the child.
I have just seen that gregb has pipped me to the post with this one. And it is true that one major lesson to learn is that regulatory authorities never seem to learn by their mistakes, and do not seem to be able to be satisfactorily punished - a point made in the OP. But the lesson I take is that the MSM will often produce a completely misleading headline, and it is a good idea not to be take in by them...