Investigation criticises joint review into Haringey’s social services

Problems with the processes used for
collecting information for joint reviews led to an “overly
positive” review of Haringey social services department in

was the conclusion of an internal investigation of the 1999 review,
which was carried out after Victoria Climbie’s death and was the
subject of questions last week at the reconvened public inquiry
into her death.

inquiry was reopened for two days to consider the impact of the
joint review after the internal investigation was submitted to the
inquiry a week after phase one closed. Chief inspector of social
services Denise Platt said it had not been submitted earlier
because its potential relevance to the inquiry had not occurred to
her (News, page 6, 11 July).

investigation, carried out by David Prince of the Audit Commission
and Jennifer Gray of the Social Services Inspectorate, revealed
that the 1999 review had failed to reveal what was really going on
in children’s services.

creation of “this unbalanced picture” was mainly the result of “the
processes that exist for the collection and collation of material,
the drafting of reports and the subsequent scrutiny and challenge
of the draft report, rather than because of any failing of the
reviewers”, they concluded.

part of their investigation, Prince and Gray analysed 11 notebooks
used by the joint review team and found that the information
collected in them was unstructured. “This has implications for the
collation stage of the joint review process, as it requires
considerable work to organise the material under systematic
headings and then analyse it,” they said.

Simpson, co-author of the 1999 joint review, told the inquiry that
he should have emphasised the department’s weaknesses more clearly
by “pointing out the practice deficiencies we discovered” at the
beginning and end of the report because those were the sections
people tended to read.

said he had included in the report a number of concerns about
practice issues and poor services but they were “scattered
throughout the report”. Simpson also said he clearly raised
questions about resources.

added: “If you read the report in its entirety and if you go
through every single page and every single paragraph, you will see
in the report a whole stack of issues concerned with practice
fragility which I have pointed out, not just for children and
families but for all the client groups, for all the user groups and
they are clearly identified.”

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