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Council’s culture of trust led to managers’ over reliance on what they were told in children cases

Investigation into Pembrokeshire's child protection services published

A report, "The Joint investigation into the handling and management of allegations of professional abuse and the arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services in Pembrokeshire County Council", has just been published. 

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Chief Inspector Care and Social Inspectorate Wales and HM Inspectorate for Education & Training In Wales.

The investigation was undertaken in relation to the handling and management of 'allegations of abuse or causes of concern about a person who works with children' (as defined in "Safeguarding Children : Working Together under the Children Act 2004", and is referred to throughout the report as 'professional abuse'). The investigation takes account of allegations of professional abuse and the arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services in Pembrokeshire County Council from April 2007 to March 2011.

The full report can be accessed here.

Inspectors examined case files held by social services, education services and human resources and carried out interviews of staff, elected members and others.

Inspectors referred back to the authority six of the fourteen cases they reviewed because they had concerns about, "the management and handling of the cases, and the poor decisions taken." In three of these cases the Inspectors considered that there was potentially an immediate risk of harm to children. Other cases examined revealed shortcomings in practice, decision-making and due process.

Whilst the Report commends Pembrokeshire's culture of trust amongst its staff, it emphasises that the need for effective procedures to be in place so that information is routinely shared with everyone who should know about it.  It highlights the importance of record keeping and that managers must continually monitor completion of agreed outcomes.  It was vital that senior managers and elected members should have a grasp of what was happening in cases and that they should not delegate such responsibility to others.

The Leader of the authority has confirmed that he viewed the issues with the utmost seriousness and has expressed his determination to effect the necessary changes to ensure that improving systems for safeguarding children in Pembrokeshire becomes the top priority for the authority. 

A separate review is being undertaken by HM Inspectorate Constabulary into inter-agency child protection practice.