MP brands children’s social care services in Birmingham ‘a mess’

AN MP has branded children’s social care services in Birmingham “a mess” following the death of an Erdington toddler.

Khalid Mahmood (Perry Barr, Lab) rounded on Birmingham City Council following a court case last week which found a schizophrenic woman had unlawfully killed her three-year-old daughter at their Erdington home – and then dissolved the body with acid.

It emerged during the case that on the day before little Alia Ahmed Jama’s body was found, social workers had visited her home amid concerns over her welfare.

Mr Mahmood has been an outspoken critic of the local authority’s social care since another Birmingham child, Khyra Ishaq, starved to death in 2008. A high profile inquiry followed this summer and listed a raft of council failings.

Mr Mahmood told the Observer: “In my opinion, the department as a whole is not being run anywhere near as well as it could be and that could lead to lives being lost as a result.

“For more than four years now I have been trying to draw attention to the way the social services in this city are being run – but it seems like they are not prepared to take responsibility for the mess they look like they are in.

“They have had Ofsted and Government inspectors come and make their fears known, but as of yet, nothing has been done.”

He added: “It is worrying for me that the department is being run like this, and I will not stop drawing attention to it.

“I believe the pressure and stress on those who work there is making it difficult for them to provide the service we are paying them to provide.

“I am not trying to scare people, I just think something needs to be done within that department – and fast.”

Following a jury’s finding last Friday that 25-year-old Iman Omar Yousef had unlawfully killed daughter Alia, the judge ruled that she should be detained in a secure hospital.

Mr Justice Flaux said: “The evidence at trial was the defendant was protective over and cared deeply for the child but she had clearly been mentally ill for some time. It was while in the grip of that derangement she committed this awful act.”

Following the verdict, a council statement was issued which said: “A Serious Case Review has been initiated into this case and now that criminal proceedings have completed, it will be sent to Ofsted.”

When the Observer put Mr Mahmood’s latest concerns to the council, a spokesperson said no further comment would be issued beyond that of last week.

In July, Ofsted said the council was failing to protect at-risk children, adding that despite notice to improve in 2009, the authority “did not address serious deficiencies in the quality of safeguarding and protection services which are longstanding, very evident and in need of immediate action”.

The council was also criticised for not knowing social workers’ caseloads.