Damning report on protection of children in county

Ben Gowland, Paul Blantern and Paul Phillips

Ben Gowland, Paul Blantern and Paul Phillips

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Child protection services in Northamptonshire have been described as “inadequate” by Ofsted.

In a highly critical report published yesterday, Ofsted inspectors said “children and young people in Northamptonshire are not effectively protected from harm”.

The report went on to say that “too few children and young people benefit from co-ordinated prevention and early help with consequently significantly more children and young people identified as children in need than in similar authorities”.

Assessments and plans were criticised for not being “clear, thorough or focused”.

The report’s author, Ofsted inspector Brendan Parkinson, said: “The legacy of children and young people not receiving sufficiently focused help at various stages in the emergence of risk has left too many with chronic, and periodically acute, levels of vulnerability.”

The report also found that many professionals who spoke with inspectors felt stretched in terms of time, skill and expertise.

Mr Parkinson did comment that senior officers and those with statutory roles have begun to respond to the emerging findings of this inspection, but concluded that “it remains too early to identify impact”.

In response, the county council has announced a recovery programme to bring immediate improvements to its child protection services.

This includes a review of all child protection decisions and giving frontline social workers dealing with complex cases one-to-one support from senior practitioners.

The council’s chief executive, Dr Paul Blantern, said: “We accept the findings unreservedly.

“There are two major themes emerging. The first is that we and our partners need to improve the way we identify and assess children’s vulnerability. The second is that we need to make sure we listen to and see things much more from the child’s perspective.”

To see the Ofsted report go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/ofstedreport