Pembrokeshire Council admits “errors”

Pembrokeshire Council has accepted responsibility for
“errors in procedures” after it was ordered to pay
£5,000 to a mother of four children for its handling of child
protection inquiries, writes Sally

In a damning report released this week, ombudsman Adam Peat
concludes that social services’ handling of the case in 2002
revealed “repeated, prolonged and serious

He added that the council’s track-record in dealing with
the woman and her children, who can not be named, had been

Leader of the council, councillor John Davies said the authority
accepted the ombudsman’s report. “Although we do have
some reservations, it is clear that there were errors in procedure
which should not have occurred.”

The report says that social workers’ decision to follow up
an allegation of physical abuse by the children’s father
without first undertaking adequate preliminary inquiries resulted
in “hamfisted” interviews with the mother and her

Peat highlights that the woman was visited in the shop she owned
before a child protection conference had been held to discuss the
father’s allegation. She was accused in front of one of her
children of hitting one of her sons with a wooden spoon

Social workers’ insistence on then picking up the children
from school where their teachers, friends and friends’
mothers witnessed the event was “grossly insensitive and
indiscreet” and an attempt to illegally transport six people
in a five-seater car was incompetent, Peat adds.

The mother complained about the way she had been treated by
social workers and the conduct of the child protection conference
which resulted in the children being placed on the child protection

She claims her family was ostracised and she was forced to close
her shop because neighbours thought she was a child abuser.

Peat has ordered the council to carry out a formal review into
its handling of the case by June to ensure it has learned

Davies said: “It appears that one of the principle
mistakes in this matter has been one of over caution. In all such
cases there are difficult decisions to be made and these are
usually matters of judgement.”

Davies stressed that many changes had already been made but that
the formal review would take place and a fresh apology would be

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