Shoesmith removed after ‘devastating’ inspection report

Haringey’s director of children’s services Sharon Shoesmith has been removed from her post following a “devastating” inspection report.

Children’s secretary Ed Balls announced the move today as he responded to the findings of the joint area review commissioned after the Baby P case.

The review by Oftsed and police and health inspectorates criticised “poor” child protection practices and concluded there had been “insufficient” management oversight by Shoesmith and the council’s chief executive.

John Coughlan, Hampshire’s director of children’s services, who was seconded to the council following the Baby P case, will replace Shoesmith until the end of this month.

Balls said he would personally appoint a new director of children’s services to take over from January 1. Both Coughlan and the new director will be asked to produce monthly reports.

Inspectors found the safeguarding of children and young people in Haringey was “inadequate” and in need of “urgent and sustained attention.”

Haringey’s own serious case review into Baby P was also found to be “inadequate”, leading Balls to respond by ordering a new serious case review immediately.

The children’s secretary also appointed former Kent director of children’s services Graham Badman to take over as chair of Haringey’s local safeguarding children board, which was previously headed by Shoesmith. Balls said the new SCR should be submitted to Ofsted by February.

Other key failings included:

  • a failure to identify those children and young people at immediate risk of harm and to act on evidence
  • agencies generally working in isolation from one another and without any effective co-ordination
  • poor gathering, recording and sharing of information
  • inconsistent quality of front-line practice and insufficient evidence of supervision by senior management
  • insufficient challenge by the local safeguarding children board to its members and also to front-line staff
  • an overdependence on performance data, which was not always accurate
  • poor child protection plans

Balls also confirmed that the Healthcare Commission would be asked to review whether national child protection standards were being applied “as vigorously as they should be.” NHS organisations will also review their child protection arrangements.

Balls said today that while Ofsted’s chief inspector had concluded Haringey’s failings were “exceptional”, there was “no reason for complacency.”

He said that an interim report of Lord Laming’s review of child protection, commissioned after the Baby P trial, had recommended independent chairing of all serious case reviews.

In response, Balls announced that each local safeguarding children board responsible for a serious case review judged to be inadequate would be asked to reconsider the review with an independent person.

The same process will also be used for any future serious case reviews that Ofsted judges to be inadequate.

Balls said he had today written to all directors and lead members of children’s services enclosing a copy of the Haringey inspection report “to ensure that they are examining their own safeguarding arrangements.”

But Balls ruled out a public inquiry into Haringey’s children’s services. He said he agreed with Laming’s judgement that a probe would “divert effort from the actions now needed to keep children in Haringey safe”.

Balls said the whole nation had been “shocked and moved by the tragic and horrific death of Baby P.”

He added: “We will not rest until we have the very best child protection arrangements in place in Haringey and across our country.”

More information

Joint area review delivers damning verdict on Haringey child protection

Laming and Ofsted urge changes to serious case reviews

Ed Balls: full statement

Background to Baby P case and related articles




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