Wandsworth Council’s child protection services praised by Inspectors

“Good training and development opportunities are promoted and are well regarded by social workers, enabling them to provide a good service to the most vulnerable children.

“Effective partnership working across all agencies, including the police child abuse investigating team, results in timely and planned action to protect children.

“The hospital based social work team provide strong links with partner agencies, in particular in relation to pre-birth assessments, to ensure the well-being of unborn children.

“Case work intervention is effective and this results in repeat referrals being consistently lower than similar councils.

“Decisions are made in accordance with statutory timescale. All contacts are seen by managers within 24 hours.

“Referral processes are clear. Social work caseloads are manageable and protocols for transferring work to the children in need team are effective and timely.

“A responsive out-of-hours duty team provides an effective service.

“Recruitment and retention initiatives are effective and have resulted in very low numbers of agency staff in the duty team.

“Management information and audits are effectively used to improve social work practice and service delivery.”

Children’s services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “The protection of vulnerable children is one of the most vitally important jobs that local authorities are tasked with. It is also one of the most difficult and challenging.

“I am therefore pleased that this unannounced spot check has shown that our systems and procedures are strong and effective in keeping children safe from abuse and neglect.

“Social workers are not overloaded with too many cases, the use of agency staff is kept to a minimum, managers supervise cases properly and staff on the front line say they feel confident in raising any issues of concern they have with their caseloads.

“These ingredients are vital if an organization is to provide a proper child protection service.

“The inspection identified many areas of strength and satisfactory practice, with some areas that could benefit from further development – and these are already being put into effect. We are determined to do all we can to ensure the safety of children and young people in Wandsworth.”

The Ofsted inspection was carried out under section 138 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

The inspection sampled the quality and effectiveness of contact, referral and assessment arrangements and their impact on minimising any child abuse and neglect.

Inspectors considered a range of evidence, including: electronic case records; supervision files and notes; observation of social workers and senior practitioners undertaking referral and assessment duties; and other information provided by staff and managers. Inspectors also spoke to a range of staff including managers, social workers, other practitioners and administrative staff.