Bradford ‘At risk’ reports rise 23 per cent but number of children in care stays steady

The number of children suspected of being at risk in their family homes in the Bradford district has soared as a direct result of the death of Baby P.

Bradford Council received 6,608 referrals in the year ending June 13, 2009 – up 23 per cent on the previous 12 months, a report has revealed.

In total, 900 children and teenagers have been taken from their parents or guardians due to fears for their safety and placed in Council care.

Children are also staying in care for longer as social services chiefs take a more cautious approach in the aftermath of the death of one-year-old Peter Connelly, in Haringey, London.

Julie Jenkins, the Council’s assistant director of children’s social care, said: “Because people are more risk-aware post-Baby P we have got more children staying in care for longer.

“The system is more cautious and we have got more younger children coming in, but we would expect that because you need to make very quick decisions on children aged nought to five.

“But we are not taking more children into care, that has stayed steady.”

Figures show that in a typical year about 840 children are taken into care in the Bradford district. Between 60 and 80 children a year are allowed to leave the authority’s care. In the year to June, that number stood at 82.

The children’s social care department was allocated more than £685,000 in the last budget.

Mrs Jenkins said: “The investment is there, we have a committed, dedicated workforce, strong procedures and safeguarding, and we have more manageable caseloads than many other local authorities so I’m pleased with where we are at.”

Councillor Michael Kelly, the Council’s executive member for services to children and young people, said there was still a massive challenge to ensure children leaving care went on to have a positive future.

He said: “Nationally, a third of our prison population were looked-after children. It’s an awful statistic and we don’t have anything to suggest Bradford is any different. This is clearly a very real and serious issue that we have to do something about.”

In the last year, 76 per cent of looked- after young people studying for GCSEs achieved at least one A to G grade, up from 65 per cent in the previous year.

The report will be considered by the Council’s executive on Tuesday, December 8.