Hot on the heels of consecutive OFSTED reports hammering Salford Council's Children's Services over safeguarding and other issues…and hot on the heels of the Demi Leigh Mahon Serious Case Review which highlighted the Department's child protection failings, the Salford Star can exclusively reveal yet another report which damns the Council's dealings with children and young people.
In late July a Criminal Justice Joint Inspection reported on youth offending work in Salford. Its findings were shocking. Calling for a `Substantial' improvement in Safeguarding work, the Inspection found that "case files had been substantially pruned/archived prior to the inspection" and that "a number of key documents could not be found as a consequence".
In over half the cases assessed, a Vulnerability Management Plan (VMP), which is a plan "to safeguard the wellbeing of the individual under supervision" was required, but one was only completed in 17% of these cases. And in only one case was the VMP assessed as sufficient. The safeguarding plan informed interventions in just two cases.
In nearly half of the cases, a core Asset vulnerability screening was completed to an insufficient standard. Meanwhile, "the assessment of safeguarding needs was reviewed as appropriate in just 57% of cases".
In a third of cases where young people were sentenced to a stay in "a secure establishment" the `establishment' was not made aware of vulnerability issues. The report adds: "Active liaison and information sharing with the custodial establishment around safeguarding issues took place in just under half of the relevant cases" and "We could not evidence management oversight of vulnerability assessments in 77% of relevant cases".
Reports on assessments of vulnerability were also found to have been "cloned from previous assessments and not adequately updated."
The Inspection also found that "Necessary action had not been taken to safeguard and protect the child or young person in custody in 50% of the relevant cases" and for "young people in the community all necessary action was taken to safeguard and protect other affected children or young people in slightly less than half of the cases".
The damning Report continues… "Evidence could not be found to demonstrate effective management oversight of safeguarding and vulnerability needs in 73% of the applicable custody cases and 81% of the community cases. Of concern, the figures for Looked After Children were similar."
Calling for a "Drastic" improvement in `Achievement of Outcomes' the Report found that "A reduction in risk factors linked to Safeguarding was not achieved in 69% of the cases where this was an issue. The disaggregated figure for Looked After Children was only slightly better at 50%"
The Report concludes…
"Overall, outcomes were disappointing. This was not altogether surprising bearing in mind the fact that many assessments lacked focus and analysis, and the intervention plans did not routinely address the right things to do, in the right way at the right time with the children or young people."
Read the full Inspection Report here
Stop Press: 6:45pm
Salford Council Response just arrived:
Lead member for children’s services Cllr John Warmisham said: “We have accepted the findings of this report and are already implementing an improvement plan in response.
“The inspectors have given us a clear steer for where we need to be much better but they acknowledge that we had already started work on addressing these concerns.
“While we do have to improve our performance, we have not failed the people who rely on our service and I am concerned that the negative language in the report might unnecessarily undermine the public’s confidence in it.
“There have been significant reductions in the numbers of offences committed by young people in Salford and a corresponding reduction in the numbers appearing before the courts.
“More young people are now engaged in education, training and employment and today there are far less people being dealt with by custody than a year ago.”