Brent director challenges claims

Allegations that Brent social services placed unaccompanied minors
in bed and breakfast accommodation and employed people in its
children’s services department the day after they arrived in this
country have been challenged by the council’s social services

exclusively to Community Care, Jenny Goodall said she was
keen to respond to claims made by social worker Edward Armstrong in
his evidence to the Victoria Climbie inquiry.

She said
his claims that unaccompanied minors had been placed in bed and
breakfast and that individual cases had been mishandled and closed
prematurely were “unsubstantiated”. She added that the authority
had asked Armstrong’s solicitor for details about allegations that
it placed unaccompanied 13-year-olds in bed and breakfast
accommodation (news, page 8, 18 October).

hearing Armstrong’s evidence, inquiry chairperson Lord Laming
interrupted proceedings to order an urgent investigation into
Brent’s working practices.

Armstrong, who is currently suspended from his post as intake team
duty manager in children’s services pending an investigation into
his handling of the first referral regarding Climbie, had also
alleged that the council had employed people in its children’s
services the day after arriving in the country.

who became director in September 1999, two months after the council
ceased its involvement with Climbie, said: “He’s right that we were
very reliant on agency staff, as are a lot of local authorities,
but our staff were always interviewed.”

But she
admitted that in the mid-1990s “a lot of things were done to
children’s services that weren’t very helpful”. These included huge
underspending (news, page 9, 25 October) and staffing shortages
-Ê23 posts were cut including that of head of children’s

she refused to comment on claims that money earmarked for
children’s services had been given to education and older people’s

will give evidence to the inquiry in the week beginning 10

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