A government report has given a pretty depressing report on how the County Council manages child protection issues. You can download a summary of the report here.
Different aspects of young people’s issues are graded either as :
4: outstanding/excellent; 3: good; 2: adequate; 1: inadequate
You can see that much of what the County does in connection with children is given an ‘adequate’ rating.
For example in connection with GCSE grades, the county is rated as ‘adequate’ (You might think that we should be hoping for ‘good’ or even ‘outstanding’ here! ) Only in one section does the council get a ‘good’ rating and it doesn’t get ‘outstanding’ anywhere.
However in one section – the one involving child safety, the County is rated as ‘inadequate’. The report says:
Important weaknesses and areas for development:
The threshold for referral to children and young people?s services is not understood and acted on consistently. [This was also noted in the previous report] Recruitment and vetting of staff working with children are not sufficiently robust. Insufficient priority is given to bringing about improvements by learning from complaints about service and serious case reviews. The target for reducing the number of young people who are victims of crime
has not been met.
That first bit, about not understanding when a child’s situation needs a referral to social services , is pretty alarming. And it gets worse when you realise that only seven other councils out of 147 were rated as low as Essex. One of those is Haringey when the baby P case occurred.
The County Council is meeting on Thursday to discusss how to respond. We’ll try to keep you up to date on this.
In the meantime, here’s how the BBC has reported on the eight worst councils
And here’s a damning account from the Essex Chronicle:
SOCIAL services left children in the care of their mother, despite knowing she was sharing her home with a string of abusive partners and sex offenders, the Chronicle can reveal.
The shocking revelation comes as Ofsted published reasons behind its ‘inadequate’ rating of Essex County Council’s safeguarding children services ? one of just eight authorities in the country to receive the damning judgement.
Over more than seven years, dozens of neighbours, teachers and even an MP raised concerns that the Chelmsford mum neglected her children and left them in the care of unsuitable men.
Three youngsters were involved in the shocking story, now subject of a investigation, which came to light with the life imprisonment of Richard Moulding for a series of sickening sex attacks on children.
Social services had been warned about up to three other dangerous men who were known to spend time with the children, yet failed to act.
They had also received a catalogue of complaints from concerned neighbours and professionals who revealed, according to our sources:
Children wandering the streets at night asking for food;
They turned up at school unfed, unwashed and not wearing uniforms;
They were left in the care of ‘unsuitable’ men ? including alleged and convicted sex offenders and violent criminals;
They suffered violent behaviour at the hands of their mother.
The father of one of the children, who cannot be named by the Chronicle for legal reasons, but still lives in Chelmsford, said: “I feel we have been totally let down by the system at every step.”
MISTAKES by social services that left three children in the care of a mother who neglected and allowed them to visit paedophiles could be made again, a father has warned.
Essex County Council has launched a Serious Case Review into the way it handled the investigation.
The man’s young daughter was sent by her mother to visit the caravan of evil child abuser Richard Moulding, despite warnings by the father and dozens of others.
Along with her half-brother and sister, the child shared a home ? and sometimes a bed ? with another man, previously jailed for making threats to kill, and false imprisonment of a teenage girl.
A third man, known to have lived with the family, was under strict bail conditions not to have contact with youngsters.
But even after seven years no move was made to remove the children from the care of their mother.
And when the father complained to the Police Complaints Authority, he was told: “There is nothing we can do if the mother considers them fit to look after her children.”
The father, a Chelmsford man, said: “I feel as if it has been a constant fight to get
“Every time I have turned to the authorities for help I have been met by bureaucracy and red tape.
“The most frustrating thing was when I would say ‘I don’t think these are suitable people’ I was told ‘we agree but there is nothing we can do’.
“Common sense has got to come into play. Moulding lived alone in a caravan filled with pictures of children. He was seen taking photographs of kids in their underwear. Yet the mother was allowed to send her very young children to visit Moulding.
“This was all reported to social services.”……