Council suspends children’s chief

Colin Tucker has been suspended from his post as Birmingham’s director of children’s social care.

A council spokesperson was unable to give a reason for Tucker’s suspension, saying only that it was “not a direct response to the latest child death” in the city. According to a Birmingham Unison representative, council staff received an email this morning saying the decision was made “regarding his leadership of children’s services” and nothing more.

A man and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a two-year-old boy in Birmingham, who died on Sunday evening. A post-mortem examination on Monday indicated the child’s injuries were non-accidental. The family were known to social services.

A statement by the local safeguarding children board said: “The board is reviewing the circumstances of this case and will meet on Friday to make a decision regarding a serious case review.”

Tucker joined Birmingham Council in 2009.

The council’s children’s services department has had a troubled track-record before and after Tucker took charge. In 2008, even before the high-profile death of Khyra Ishaq – the seven-year-old who starved to death in her mother’s house – Ofsted rated the council as inadequate, leading to the original improvement notice in 2009.

In July 2010, Ofsted rated Birmingham’s capacity to improve its child protection services as inadequate. Children’s minister Tim Loughton met council chiefs after this report.

After the meeting, Len Clark, the council’s executive member for children’s social care, told the Birmingham Post: “There was impatience about our inability over many years to make improvements and sustain them. I came away with the distinct impression that the minister was taking the view that the time for excuses is long gone. We must begin to address inadequacies in children’s social care promptly and with determination.”

In August 2010, Community Care reported that 852 Birmingham children in need had not been allocated a qualified social worker. More than 200 looked-after children also lacked social workers, a failing the Department for Education said was illegal.

In December 2010, Ofsted listed Birmingham as one of the 12 councils in England performing poorly in its provision of children’s services.

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