Leeds Council’s child protection services have been slammed by Ofsted following an unannounced inspection last month that identified two issues requiring urgent improvement.
The Ofsted report said seven children from 23 case files had been “left at potential risk of serious harm”, while another two cases had not been written up and it was “unclear what action had been taken to protect these children”.
The inspection also found that child protection strategy discussions with police and other agencies did not take place “in a timely manner or in all relevant circumstances”, while children were not always seen, even when there were concerns over their safety.
However, Ofsted praised Leeds Council’s response to its criticisms, saying staff visited children identified as at potential risk on the same day it highlighted problems.
The unannounced inspections, which started in June, are a key part of government attempts to improve child protection, particularly in the wake of the baby Peter case.
Priority action for nine councils
Ofsted has now published reports on 18 inspections, and identified “areas for priority action” in half of them, with Leeds raising the most serious concerns.
Rosemary Archer, Leeds Council’s director of children’s services, said: “We recognise and fully accept the seriousness of the inspection’s findings. For this reason we responded within hours to the concerns of the inspectors and we took effective action to see immediately the children identified as being left at potential risk of serious harm, so we could assess their situation in order to assure their safety.
“In the weeks since the inspection we have undertaken a major review of previous cases to ensure that no children are being left at potential risk of serious harm. We have also put into place additional checks to make sure all reviews, involving new cases where a potential risk of serious harm is identified, meet required standards.”
Ofsted is using the term “areas for priority action” after complaints from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services that the phrase it originally planned to use, “serious concerns”, could give the public an unrealistically poor impression of safeguarding services.