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Failed: Baby P report slams councils

COUNCILS across the country will be slammed this week for COVERING UP serious failures by social workers which are putting children at risk.

A review commissioned after the horrific death of 17-month-old Baby P warns that DOZENS of social services departments have concealed serious failures.

And it says town hall bosses are putting children in peril by overloading social workers with red tape and targets.

The new report by Lord Laming follows his landmark inquiry into the death in 2000 of tortured eight-year-old Victoria Climbié (below right), after which he called for a total overhaul of child protection systems.

But in his latest review out on Thursday he will reveal that many of his reforms, supposed to have been introduced four years ago, have still not been properly implemented.

He will point out that information about children at risk of abuse is not being widely circulated — even since Baby P died in August, 2007.

Social workers from London’s Haringey council who visited the tot (below left) at home failed to spot he had suffered more than 50 injuries from his abusive mother, her boyfriend and their lodger.

Lord Laming, former chief social services inspector, now warns proper checks have not been made on social services, allowing poor managers to escape discovery.

His review will also warn the government’s obsession with reports, performance indicators and middle managers has left social workers isolated and overworked. As a result, social services are too slow to take children into care.

Lord Laming’s review, ordered by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls last November, will also conclude too many social services managers have no experience of dealing with children.

It will say there are similar problems in dozens of local authorities. Mr Balls is set to back the findings and promise to implement the recommendations.

The minister will point to new, tougher inspections carried out by Ofsted and the fact that internal inquiries after a child dies are now carried out by independent experts.

DR Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University and former director of social services, writes . .

THIS has been a very quick inquiry. I don’t think that hasty, knee- jerk reaction is helpful. What we need is for things to be slowed down and for the government to be reflective.

What the government did following the Climbié report was create organisations and local councils which have ended up hurting children. These authorities have become so rule-bound that social workers spend more time filling in forms than looking after children.

Some conclusions ministers made from the last report weren’t helpful. Lord Laming didn’t recommend, for example, the abolition of the Social Services Department.

This led to the birth of the Children’s Department. Now children who are in difficulty are caught in the same net as children who are in considerable danger.

It means that the people who are managing social services may not have experience in child protection and taking action to look after, protect and safeguard children in danger.

Somewhere along the line, ministers must put up their hands and say: “We may have got some of this wrong.”



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