Birmingham City Council name new boss for struggling social services
THE new boss of a social services department at the centre of a child deaths scandal has been recruited from a neighbouring authority – which itself has seen three children die from abuse or neglect.
Colin Tucker will take up the newly created post of Director of Children’s Social Services at Birmingham City Council in the summer.
He has been Director of Children’s Social Care at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council for 3½ years.
Birmingham City Council’s children’s services was given a year to improve by the Government in January after the Sunday Mercury revealed that 15 youngsters had died of abuse or neglect since 2005. The authority will face regular checks by an external monitoring team.
The Government is part-funding the appointment of two new assistant directors, but Mr Tucker’s new job is being funded entirely by the city council.
The move comes after the department’s ability to protect children from harm was rated inadequate by Ofsted in December.
Coun Len Clark is chairing a scrutiny committee which is expected to recommend an overhaul of children’s social services.
He welcomed Mr Tucker’s appointment, which has not been publicly announced, and said he was a specialist in his field with an ‘‘unblemished record and years of experience”.
Mr Tucker took over children’s social care at Sandwell soon after the service was rated as inadequate by Ofsted in 2005, but the department has improved and received an ‘adequate’ overall rating in December.
But three children, at least two of whom were known to social services, were killed as a result of abuse or neglect while he was in charge.
They included six-month-old Troy Simpson who was killed by his mother’s lover Sherwain Smith after being taken from his cot in February 2006 and dumped in a culvert near his Smethwick home.
Smith, 23, was sentenced to an indefinite jail term for the manslaughter in April 2007. A serious case review found that the killer had already been known to police and probation as he had earlier been accused of child sex offences. He was later convicted over the offences.
Sandwell social workers are also understood to have had involvement with Troy’s mother, yet closed their case prior to his death.
The two other Sandwell serious case reviews involved a five-year-old child who was murdered in December 2007 and a seven-year-old disabled child who died last June.
In both cases it appears the children had failed to attend a children’s centre and school respectively, yet their absence had not been pursued rigorously enough.
Sandwell was recently named among 28 authorities which had one or more serious care reviews rated as inadequate by Ofsted – suggesting it was taking inadequate action to avoid more abuse cases.
Coun Clark said the city council was wrong when it integrated children’s social care with education. “We will have someone dealing solely with children’s social care,” he said.
Mr Tucker declined to comment, but Coun Ian Jones, Sandwell cabinet member, said its children and young people’s services had improved significantly since Mr Tucker’s appointment.