Northamptonshire child protection 'inadequate', Ofsted finds
- 20 March 2013
- From the section Northampton
The system for stopping the neglect and abuse of children in Northamptonshire is inadequate, inspectors have found.
Ofsted was called in to review the county's child protection services after an inspection last month highlighted a number of concerns.
Ofsted officers concluded that social workers and others must get better at listening to children and sharing information about risks to them.
The county council said it would act immediately on the report's findings.
Inspectors found that, in most cases, people whose job it was to keep children safe took action quickly when they were at risk of serious harm.
Staff were committed to support children, young people and families to improve their lives, they found.
'Didn't work together'
But they also rated services in all four categories as inadequate.
"Social workers and others... need to get much better at listening to children and young people and understanding what they need," they concluded.
"Those working with children must get much better at sharing information about risks to children so that there are no delays in keeping children safe."
The report said the most senior people within the county council and other agencies did not work together well enough to improve life for those in most need.
Northamptonshire County Council said it was launching a "recovery programme" to bring about immediate improvements.
Chief executive Dr Paul Blantern said the authority had sought an independent assessment of its performance.
It had already appointed Kevin Crompton as chair of the local safeguarding children's board and a cabinet member for children's social care.
Mr Crompton was formerly chief executive of Haringey Council where he helped improve children's services following the death of Peter Connelly, also known as Baby P, in 2007 after social workers missed signs of abuse.
"We accept the findings unreservedly," said Dr Blantern.
The council plans to agree a new set of service standards and to review all child protection decisions.
It will also change the way out-of-hours inquiries are signed off and frontline social workers will be given one-to-one supervision from senior colleagues on complex cases.
The council said it would secure extra resources from the police and NHS to ensure the right information was shared between agencies.
"Our immediate goal is to raise standards across the board and across the county so that by the time Ofsted next comes to inspect us, they will be able to see that significant and far-reaching improvements have taken place," said Dr Blantern.
Paul Phillips, temporary assistant chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, said: "We have got to encourage our staff, as we repeatedly do, to take responsibility for protecting people.
"Most of the time we get it right, but again, as part of this learning, we will get back to our staff and repeat some of the messages and give them new information about how they protect people well and truly."