Accusations Of Report Cover-Up

A top councillor has hit back at an opposition leader’s claims of a cover-up over a damning report on Bromley’s youth offenders team. Inspectors from the Government’s social care inspectorate and the Probation Service spent October and November of last year looking at the team’s work before a report was published on March 7.

In each of the assessed areas, which ranged from the quality of management to how staff worked with young offenders, the inspectors gave the team a one out of four rating, labelling it as inadequate. Labour leader Councillor John Getgood says this report had not been released or discussed at a council committee.

But the portfolio holder for children and young people Councillor Ernest Noad says it was discussed at a scrutiny committee meeting where a working party was set up.

Cllr Noad says Labour was invited to have a representative on this group but none of them joined. He said: “We are not in the business of cover ups, never have been and never will be. The report went to the scrutiny committee when it was published. I do feel we have responded very well indeed.”

Cllr Getgood said: “Labour has only got four councillors and there is only so much each individual can take on. What they were trying to do is drive attention away from the very serious issues to the personalities. If it had not been for Labour, none of this would have come out into the public domain.”

Bromley Council started managing the team in April last year. It took over from Community Safety, a team which works with police and other agencies to reduce crime and disorder.

The report’s author, Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges, does note significant changes have taken place since it took over. These include improving the service at Bromley Magistrates’ Court so young offenders and their families are better informed about the court process.

There is also more work being done to monitor and supervise young offenders while they are on licence. The working party will go through the recommendations in the report and make sure the improvements are made.

Mr Bridges said: “While the Bromley youth offenders team had shown many failings, and some serious ones, there was a realistic determination to improve.”