The government has ordered an urgent inspection of child protection in Haringey following the Baby P case.
Children’s secretary Ed Balls today wrote to Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert, calling for her to carry out a joint area review of safeguarding in the north London borough, in conjunction with the Healthcare Commission and the police inspectorate.
He said it should be carried out by inspectors with specialist child protection expertise and called for their first report to be submitted to him by 1 December.
Coughlan seconded to Haringey
Balls also announced today that Hampshire Council director of children’s services John Coughlan has been seconded to Haringey “to ensure proper procedures for safeguarding children are in place and are being properly applied”.
Coughlan will work alongside Haringey director of children’s services Sharon Shoesmith, who chaired the serious case review into the care of 17-month-old Baby P in the run-up to his death in August 2007.
Balls said he and children’s minister Beverley Hughes had read the full case review, an executive summary of which was published yesterday.
Mother and step-father convicted
Two people, including his step-father, were convicted of causing or allowing his death yesterday, a charge his mother had already pleaded guilty to.
Balls said the case review revealed:-
- Each agency had singly and collectively failed to adhere to the procedures for managing child protection cases, as set out in Working together to safeguard children.
- There was evidence of poor quality practice, management and supervision of staff in all agencies.
- Health professionals appeared to have failed to follow appropriate procedures where there was evidence of a child having suffered non-accidental injuries.
- There was inappropriate use of family friends as temporary carers for Baby P.
Serious concerns about wider systems
He told Gilbert that “such findings in an individual case raise serious concerns about the wider systems and management for safeguarding children in Haringey”.
He said the inspectorates needed to:-
- Undertake an urgent and thorough inspection of the quality of practice and management of all services which contribute to the effective safeguarding of children in the local area.
- Ensure rigorous scrutiny of the quality of practice and decision-making by front line workers and their managers, and of the effectiveness of management practice and performance management systems in all relevant agencies.
Earlier, in a heated Prime Minister’s Question Time, Conservative leader David Cameron urged Gordon Brown to consider taking over Haringey Council’s children’s services department.
Cameron said the case was a “story about a social services department which gets £100m a year but can’t look after children”.
He added: “This department in Haringey – one in four social work positions is completely vacant and another children has been beaten to death. Will [Brown] at least consider whether the time has come to take over this failing department and put someone in charge who can run it properly for our children?”
Brown replied: “This is a tragic and serious loss of life that has got to be investigated properly so that all of the lessons can be learned. He’s got to accept that the executive summary that has already been published from the inquiry in Haringey shows there are weaknesses that exist.
“We have received the full report this morning, we will act on it quickly, we will do it in the right way so that we come to the judgements that are necessary to protect children in the future. The whole country shares the outrage, the whole country wants to see action and the whole country will support the action that is taking place both nationally and in Haringey.”