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10 SEP 2009

Ofsted find child protection failings at three councils

Ofsted has revealed serious child protection failings at Rotherham, Calderdale and North Yorkshire councils following surprise inspections.

The children's services inspectorate sampled the quality and effectiveness of contact, referral and assessment arrangements and their impact on minimising the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

The inspection identified areas for priority action and a number of areas for development. Case files were fount not to be up to date, while performance-management systems and auditing policies prevented managers from fully exercising decision-making and supervisory responsibilities.

Most seriously Ofsted found that that some child-safety cases had not been properly investigated at Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council. However, Ofsted said the council has now "acted promptly to ensure that the cases identified are further investigated to ensure the safety of these children".

North Yorkshire County Council was criticised of its handling of two cases in which children claimed they had been assaulted by an adult at home. The council was found not to have followed correct procedures to ensure the safety of the children.

In response, North Yorkshire council said in a statement that there had been a "significant increase" in child care cases recently because of "increased public and professional anxiety caused by the death of Baby Peter in Haringey".

Unannounced inspections were introduced by Ofsted earlier this year following the death of Baby Peter.

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