Inspectors highlight Hackney’s progress

Hackney Council hopes that improvements to its children’s
services, which were highlighted in a government inspection report
last week, will lead to its removal from ministerial

The Social Services Inspectorate report examined services for
looked-after children and the registration and inspection unit, and
assessed the council’s progress in meeting statutory directions
issued in October 2000 under the Local Authority Social Services
Act 1970.

It also follows three critical inspections in 1998-9.

The registration and inspection unit was judged to have met
statutory directions during a previous inspection in March 1999
which set out four recommendations, including recruitment of lay
assessors and filling vacant inspector posts. The latest report
says these have been fulfilled.

Several improvements in children’s services were outlined in the
inspection. These include the positive impact of a new head of
children and families on the management of the service, systems set
up to monitor and improve practice in the key areas of looked-after
children and child protection, an emphasis on supervision and
communication, and the establishment of a new management team.

However, despite substantial progress in meeting the statutory
directions, improvements had not yet translated into consistently
improved practice for all children, said the report.

Social services director Mary Richardson said that although
there was still a massive work agenda, the scale of improvement was

“We would hope to have satisfied the Department of Health that
the reasons for ministerial direction have been dealt with,” she

Hackney social services department is still on special measures
and is on ministerial direction for some aspects of its children’s

A local authority is put on ministerial directions when the
government believes that it has neither the capacity or willingness
to improve.

Special measures are imposed where there are serious weaknesses
but an action plan is in place to deal with them.

n Social Services Inspection report is at

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