Two social service staff ‘shredded 25 bags of files’
Documents and files at the heart of an independent inquiry into the beleaguered children’s services directorate have been shredded.
Two staff members are alleged to have gone into the Civic Centre over a weekend and destroyed vital council paperwork in an incident now known among council staff as ‘Shreddergate’.
The information was revealed to the Evening Post by an insider who said 25 bags of shredded paperwork were retrieved and retained afterwards. The insider said: “There is possibly an innocent explanation for the incident but I have been struggling to find one.”
Following the Ofsted report on the borough children’s services department which found its child protection services to be inadequate, the Evening Post received a number of communications from both current and former members of staff in the department making allegations of bullying by managers.
All the whistleblowers who contacted the newspaper were afraid to have their names published – even those who had left the service and were working in neighbouring authorities.
Allegations included those of managers being reduced to tears, staff being overworked, social work professionals having their opinions about young clients over-ridden because of policies driven by costs, rock-bottom staff morale and social workers treated as “form-filling cattle”.
Following the allegations Reading Borough Council appointed an independent investigating officer to look into the allegations.
The Evening Post contacted the borough council to find out if the Shreddergate incident – which has not been denied – had hampered the inquiry.
Oscar Mortali, spokesman for the borough council, said: “The preliminary internal investigation into allegations made through the local press of bullying and other concerns within the children’s services directorate has been initiated.
“The council has appointed an independent investigating officer to undertake this investigation who was for many years a Director of Social Services and has a continuing interest in care standards and regulation.
“This investigation is ongoing and is wide-ranging in its remit. It is not focussed on individuals at this stage.
“The investigating officer is receiving full co-operation and his work and has not been hindered in any way. There have been no circumstances or incidents that have blocked, hindered or held up the investigation to date.
“The job share heads of targeted services – responsible for the area of child protection – are currently on extended leave for personal reasons.”
The incident has not been reported to police.