Haringey disciplines three social workers over safeguarding backlog

Three social workers have been disciplined by Haringey Council after the north London authority found a backlog of child protection cases had not been dealt with in the wake of the Baby P scandal.

An agency practitioner has been dismissed and two staff members suspended for not dealing with their workloads appropriately, after the authority found around 1,000 referrals had not been dealt with, 60 of which included child protection concerns.

A council spokesperson said: “When this came to light, we took immediate action to deal with these cases. All of these cases have now been properly scrutinised and prioritised and appropriate action has been taken.

Safeguarding cases given priority

“Cases involving safety concerns have been dealt with as priority and those requiring immediate action have had social workers allocated to them.”

He said the council now had fewer than 30 unallocated cases in children’s social care, none of which involved child protection issues, and that new referrals were being dealt with as they came in with safeguarding cases given highest priority.

Critical joint area review

The joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey, ordered by the government following the Baby P trial and published last December, found some social workers had heavy caseloads and, as a result, some staff were unable to act on all cases effectively.

Some cases were allocated electronically and without discussion between managers and social workers over what actions to take.

Council action plan

A safeguarding action plan, published in February by the council in response to the JAR, pledged to implement a new pathway for referrals into children’s social care, including:-

  • Data on all contacts and referrals being entered only once.
  • Decisions on follow-up actions being taken within 24 hours.
  • Referrers being informed of outcomes and reasons for decisions within 48 hours.

It has already implemented systems under which managers discuss all new case allocations with social workers, and caseloads are regularly monitored.

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