New children's commissioner at 'failing' Northamptonshire council

Andrew Christie from Westminster City Council Image copyright Westminster City Council
Image caption Andrew Christie previously ran children's services in Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea

The government has appointed a new commissioner at a crisis-hit council's children's services department.

Andrew Christie has replaced Malcolm Newsam, who announced he would be leaving his role at Northamptonshire County Council last month.

Mr Newsam took up the role in 2018 after an Ofsted report found people in its care were at "potential risk".

In July, inspectors said the authority was still "failing to keep children safe".

Mr Christie was the head of children's services covering the tri-borough area of Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster between 2011 and 2016.

Under Mr Christie, two of the three councils he covered had children's services rated as "outstanding" by Ofsted, reported the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He has also served as the non-executive director and chair of Birmingham Children's Trust, and has also worked for East Sussex, Lewisham and Surrey.

Two serious case reviews published earlier this year found Northamptonshire County Council failed to protect two murdered children.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Northamptonshire County Council failed to protect Dylan Tiffin-Brown who was murdered by his father, a serious case review previously found

Dylan Tiffin-Brown, two, and Evelyn-Rose Muggleton, one, were victims of separate murders in Northamptonshire in 2017 and 2018.

Raphael Kennedy, Dylan's father, and Ryan Coleman, the partner of Evelyn-Rose's mother, were both jailed for life.

At the time of the reviews in June, Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said the authority had a "dysfunctional safeguarding system".

Ofsted's lead inspector Pauline Higham said in her report in July there was a "range of significant weaknesses" in the county's children's services.

However, she added the department had made "progress" since Mr Newsam's appointment in November 2018.

Mr Christie's appointment was confirmed earlier as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson found that the council "continues to fail to perform to an adequate standard".

The Department of Education (DfE) also appointed Clare Chamberlain, who worked with Mr Christie in London, and took over his role in May 2016, as a support commissioner.

A statement from the DfE said: "The commissioners will continue to work on moving children's services into a children's service trust."

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