Latest Public Sector News

21.01.19

Herefordshire children’s services to be reviewed in wake of ‘appalling’ High Court rulings on ‘serious and serial’ failings

Children’s services at Herefordshire Council are to be reviewed following an extraordinary council meeting in the wake of two “appalling” High Court rulings which found the services were failing children “on a serious and serial basis.”

At the special council meeting, the authority revealed that it had been arranged for Doncaster Council to review its operations and, after setting out its actions taken and planned, one councillor denied suggestions that there was a culture of misleading judges at the council.

Herefordshire Council was forced to apologise for failing children in two separate High Court cases in December after Justice Keehan described the children’s services as “woeful” and slammed the “incompetence and serial failings of the local authority.”

The highly-critical rulings were made after one case saw a pair of twins put up for adoption separately, and another where two sisters were mistakenly not put up for adoption at all.

Herefordshire Council fully accepted both judgements and said it “deeply regretted” that the standard of service had fallen below where it should be.

Now, staff from Doncaster Council will inspect Herefordshire’s independent review officer service which examines care plans for children – an area of particular concern in the judgements and a major cause of the chaos suffered in the two cases.

In the meeting, children and families cabinet member Elissa Swinglehurst rejected the suggestion that there was a culture of misleading judges, but did admit that there had been specific incidents of misleading.

Councillors raised concerns during the meeting about structural issues and a lack of transparency and openness in explaining the recent failures to the public.

The council said that, following the meeting, the council will share its actions with Ofsted and the scrutiny task group as part of the overall improvement plan in place to ensure services continue to improve.

Image credit - Roger Cornfoot 

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