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Greenwich Council criticised by High Court judge for ‘basic’ social care failings in adoption case after ‘serious and significant data breach’

A High Court judge has slammed Greenwich Council’s social services at its staff failed to carry out “basic core social work” in an adoption case and forced an adopting family to move after their address was sent to the birth family.

Social services at the London council failed in their duty to make basic inquiries about the possibility of the children being cared for by a member of their wider family after a family court judge approved their adoption plans in 2016 when the parents could no longer look after them.

Mrs Justice Theis found that council staff had not “properly assessed” the case as it emerged an aunt wanted to take them in.

The High Court judge said that Greenwich staff also committed a “serious and significant data breach” after they accidently revealed the address of the people earmarked as adopters, leading to the family having to move home.

Staff accidently sent legal documents containing identifying details of the adoptive placement to the birth family, although Justice Theis said the aunt immediately alerted everyone involved to what had happened “to her very great credit.”

The new ruling from the High Court judge was to approve the adoption after concluding that removing the children from their family of nearly two years to their aunt’s home would further disrupt them and cause them harm.

But “one of the tragedies” of the case was that the children would have been able to live with their aunt had she been properly assessed by the council workers at the time, the judge said.

David Gardner, cabinet member for children’s services and schools and the council’s deputy leader, said the council was deeply sorry for the circumstances of the case, but was pleased a secure and settled adoption had now been granted by the court.

“We recognise our failure in our systems and the impact that the data breach may have had on those involved.

“We have learned a number of lessons from this case and have already implemented measures to minimise the risk of this happening again.”

Image credit - Marilyn Nieves


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