"The overall effectiveness of safeguarding services in Salford is inadequate"
OFSTED inspection published 21st June 2010
It just beggars belief. Two and a half years after an OFSTED report stated that "the Council's services for supporting children and young people to stay safe are inadequate", and two years after John Merry, Leader of Salford Council, apologised in the Salford Star, saying "I'm making changes to make sure that never happens again", OFSTED has again today found Salford Council's child safeguarding services inadequate.
The shocking report found that in three randomly selected cases "inspectors indicated the need for immediate child protection action, but this had not been pursued in accordance with the identified level of risk".
The Report added… "One case was formally referred where immediate child protection action was required to ensure the safety of a very young child."
And it gets worse… "In two staff files randomly examined staff had taken up posts prior to CRB checks being received". Let's get this right – staff are looking after our most vulnerable kids without a Criminal Record check being completed?
The Report also found that children and young people were at "potential risk of harm" due to "a lack of clarity in respect of thresholds to risk and access to services for children in need of protection".
Staff dealing with child protection have too many case studies to cope, and the inspectors found that, even when kids needed a child protection investigation, in some cases these hadn't been undertaken.
The horror Report goes on and on and on… Decisions on whether kids need protection were made in some teams by managers who do not even have a social work qualification.
While also criticising Salford Royal NHS Trust, local GPs and Salford Community Health for gaps in child safeguarding and safeguarding training, the Report absolutely slates Salford Council's "senior managers and elected members" who have been "ineffective in delivering the required service improvement to ensure safeguarding concerns are appropriately identified and investigated".
The Report adds that "Similar concerns have been raised over a number of years by OFSTED inspections, annual assessments, in serious case reviews and most recently in the unannounced inspection in August 2009".
1) The Effectiveness of Services In Taking Reasonable Steps To Ensure That Children and Young People Are Safe - INADEQUATE
2) The Quality of Provision – INADEQUATE
3) Leadership and management - INADEQUATE
While Salford Council's services for Looked After Children were found to be `adequate', rather than `good' or `outstanding', it is the Safeguarding inadequacy which has again been highlighted. And those directly responsible for safeguarding in Salford, including the Leader of the Council, have yet again been criticised for being "ineffective in delivering the required service"…
"I am not going to pretend the report is not critical and I am deeply concerned about the problems it outlines. We could and should be doing better in some absolutely key areas" said Council Leader John Merry in response to the Report.
"We now have a new leadership team in place which is driving through the necessary improvements and I have asked for inspectors to come back in six months to ascertain what progress we have made" he added "We have demonstrated that we will do what is necessary to do the best we can for the city's most vulnerable children and we will continue to do so."
But haven't we heard all this before? The Salford Star asked whether John Merry and his Chief Executive Barbara Spicer will be resigning over the issue. Here's the response from John Merry...
"Our responsibility is to help fix this problem, not to shirk it. We have taken responsibility for tackling these issues – dismissing the DCS (Director of Children's Services) for one thing – and we will continue to do whatever needs to be done."
Except resign, that is...
See the whole OFSTED Report here..
Also see the history of Salford Council's Safeguarding `inadequacy' here (plus older links)
See also Children's Services Acting Director involving the police in Salford Star child protection case studies expose - click here