Damning report prompts a 'root and branch review'
By Walsall Advertiser | Friday, August 03, 2012, 09:00
A GOVERNMENT inspection of Walsall Council's Safeguarding Children Service has given both the authority and its prospects for improvement the lowest rating of "inadequate".
Walsall Council's coalition Councillor Rachel Andrew.
Walsall Labour Group leader Cllr Tim Oliver believed the report was deeply disappointing.
Ofsted inspectors found the service was failing in significant areas, including assessing children's circumstances in sufficient depth, paying too little attention to the risk they faced and, in some cases, acting too slowly to take youngsters known to be at risk into care.
Portfolio holder for children's services with Walsall Council's coalition, Councillor Rachel Andrew, said: "Our children and young people deserve better and residents can be assured that the council – and its partners who are involved in safeguarding in Walsall – are conducting a root and branch review of our policies, processes and services and are determined to improve those found wanting by inspectors.
"We believe we do have the capacity to improve and the improvements required to safeguard children and young people will continue to be our number one priority."
Walsall Labour Group leader, Cllr Tim Oliver, added: "There can there be no worse condemnation of a town hall then to be told 'You are failing the children in your care'.
"This report is not just deeply disappointing; it is a bitter blow for all those families that rely on the service and for staff on the frontline.
"It is not enough to blame middle mangers and senior officers. Walsall Council as a whole must accept responsibility, including the political leadership, who should apologise for this state of affairs.
"What we need is a revolution whose starting point must be protecting and enhancing the lives of young people."
Walsall is one of a number of authorities to receive an "inadequate" judgement in recent months.
On July 4, The Local Government Chronicle reported that "five out of 24 councils whose safeguarding and looked-after children's services have been inspected in the past four months have been found inadequate".
Out of 22 specific areas assessed, inspectors judged eight to be "inadequate" – failing to meet minimum requirements; 12 as "adequate" – meeting minimum requirements and two as "good" and exceeding minimum requirements.