Children`s services at Brent worse now than at time of Climbie case

A new inspection report has found that children’s services at
Brent council are worse now than at the time of Victoria Climbie’s
case, the Laming inquiry has been told, writes Sally

The social services inspectorate report, a follow-up to one in
May 2000, says: “There was a common view that standards of practice
had deteriorated over the past 14 months, and social workers felt
increasingly frustrated at not being able to do a thorough job due
to having to cover crises.”

The report, undertaken in July last year, and put before the
council’s social services committee last week, contains a catalogue
of criticisms of the service. Recording systems are “still not
sufficiently reliable”. Two out of three case files that were
tracked were not found. Lack of improvement regarding staffing
issues also come under fire. Dependence on agency staff is
“worryingly high”, and staffing at team manager level “was
inconsistent and formal workload management and supervision systems
for many social work staff had deteriorated”.

It also notes that “social workers felt that practice was more
risky now as they lacked the resources to analyse cases and reach
considered decisions about risk taking and safety”.

The inquiry also heard that a senior social services manager had
taken a year to respond to a memo in which the author complained
that trying to retrieve child protection case files was like trying
to win the lottery.

Mimi Konigsberg, assistant director of children’s services, said
that she had taken a long time to reply to concerns raised by
Martin Punch, a worker in the administration team, because of
“pressures of work”.

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