Bradford council’s child protection services have been deemed inadequate overall by Ofsted, whose catalogue of failures included failing to get parental consent and subjecting children to unnecessary investigations. The government’s child services regulator said the council’s poor practices were placing children at risk of significant harm.
The rating comes after a string of serious failures by the council, which saw its social workers routinely neglect to get parental consent when it was required, leading to a significant number of children being subjected to unnecessary and excessive interventions in cases where there were no overriding child protection concerns.
The report confirms that children were being inappropriately interviewed by partner agencies, sometimes without getting parental consent first. The report also found that Bradford council failed to identify children genuinely in need of help.
As well as poor practice, Ofsted’s report outlines problems with high social worker turnover, a lack of foster carers and failures to fully train social work staff. Poor evidence gathering, and the varying quality of evidence for cases going to court were also listed as issues.
There is significant information detailed in the report on the cash injection Bradford council received to address perceived increases in demand for its services and a drop in social worker numbers at the local authority. The report notes that the council used that cash boost to prioritise the employment of more staff, as well as “strengthening the structure of the service”. It’s not clear from the report exactly what strengthening the council’s child protection service structure involved, though it may refer to the council’s development of decision making panels and quality assurance checks.
The report identifies some positive work within the council, too. The inspector for Ofsted, Neil Penswick, found that Bradford Council’s response to children at risk of child sexual exploitation was strong, and the team working with these children was thorough and organised.