A leading family judge has criticised the quality of children’s social services at Nottingham Council in the light of its treatment of an 18-year-old mother and care leaver, whose newborn baby it removed.
The council has admitted failing to conduct a lawful leaving care assessment or pathway plan for the woman, known as G, and to acting unlawfully in taking her baby, known as K, from her at birth without a care order or her consent.
But in a judgement published last week regarding a judicial review of both issues, Mr Justice Munby made significant criticisms of the general quality of children’s social services at the council. He said the council had been forced to concede that its failings on the leaving care issue (see panel, right) were “far from unique”.
Munby refrained from criticising frontline social workers facing significant social problems and inadequate resources, saying the failings revealed a “problem of management and training”.
On G’s unlawful separation from K, he said there were training issues which needed to be considered by both the council and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, whose staff removed the baby at the request of social workers. He called on the trust to provide guidance on the issue to frontline staff.
After the separation, Nottingham successfully sought an interim care order for K. Munby revealed that the council was planning to spend £63,500 on a four-month placement for K and G in a specialist unit, a sum which would increase by £33,000 if the baby’s father were also involved.
A spokesperson for Nottingham Council said the authority had commissioned an independent review of the case by the chair of the local safeguarding children board and “any management or training issues that are identified will be picked up and addressed”.
She added “This was a complex case. Our social workers acted in good faith to protect the child at its birth and to support the mother who is also our concern in this case.”
Andrew Holman’s blog on the Nottingham baby case
Lauren Revans’ blog on the case
Essential information on child protection