Logan Mwangi: FM rejects call for social services review

Image source, South Wales Police
Image caption,
Five-year-old Logan Mwangi was removed from the Child Protection Register a month before his death

First Minister Mark Drakeford has rejected calls for an independent review into children's social work following the death of Logan Mwangi.

Logan Mwangi, five, was murdered by his mother, stepfather and a teenager in July 2021.

An expert said the system has "profound problems" and is in crisis.

Mr Drakeford said there was "enormous pressure" but added: "We shouldn't move to a general response on the back of a single incident".

Logan Mwangi died after suffering a "brutal and sustained" attack at home, leaving him with "catastrophic" injuries.

His body was dumped in the River Ogmore, close to his home in Sarn, Bridgend county.

The family was known to social services, but Logan was removed from the Child Protection Register a month before his death.

Mr Drakeford told LBC radio: "There will be a serious case review into the events surrounding the tragic death of that child.

"We will wait for that to be completed to see whether there any more general points in it that we will need to draw out on a wider basis".

Mr Drakeford said he thought it was never "right to rush into something very general from what is a very specific set of circumstances".

He acknowledged that social work was "under enormous pressure".

This was, he said, "partly because during the pandemic, social workers were not able to visit and meet children in the way that they normally would have".

"Now they are having to make up for a backlog of work that they weren't able to discharge in the normal way."

"I don't think we need an inquiry to tell us that," he added, saying figures and inspections had showed this already.

"If you're going to divert energy, time, attention and money into an inquiry, you have to be very confident about inquiry would uncover answers that we don't have already."

Image source, South Wales Police
Image caption,
Five-year-old Logan Mwangi was described as a "really sweet, happy-go-lucky child" by a neighbour

Social work expert Prof Donald Forrester, of Cardiff University, said that in Wales and in the UK there has been "quite a number" of child deaths requiring reviews with the involvement of social services.

He has called for an independent review of all children's social work - similar to those that are being undertaken in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

He added that Wales is "out of line" in not carrying one out.

In a written answer to a question from Plaid Cymru's Heledd Fychan on whether the government would commit to a review, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said: "Through our programme for government, we have committed to radically reform services for children who are looked after and care leavers.

"As part of this ambition we will be eliminating profit from the care of looked after children, strengthening corporate parenting responsibilities and funding parental advocacy services across Wales."

She added: "While our thoughts are with everyone affected by Logan's death, I do not intend to undertake an independent review of children's social care.

"I look forward to the findings from the ongoing child practice review and the planned inspection by Care Inspectorate Wales to identify potential learning from this upsetting case."

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Jane Dodds, who previously worked as a child protection social worker said the first minister's decision not to hold an independent review was "not acceptable".

"Children's social work in Wales has been under pressure for many years now and whilst the first minister may state that 'we shouldn't move to a general response on the back of a single incident' a review should be an opportunity to learn and support social workers and children and families," she said.

She added that reviews were already taking place in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and Wales needed to do the same.

Welsh Conservative social services spokesman Gareth Davies said: "I do not know why the Labour government in Cardiff Bay do not think there is a need for an independent review of children's services in Wales.

"The other three UK nations are conducting one right now and Wales has the worst rate for looked-after children."

Plaid Cymru's Heledd Fychan said she was "deeply disappointed" by the first minister's position that "just isn't good enough".

"Wales is the outlier - and now the only nation in the UK that isn't undertaking a review," she said."Plaid Cymru believes that the rights of the child should be brought fully into Welsh law."