Major review of child protection cases ordered in Cheshire West and Chester

AN URGENT review of current child protection cases is to be carried out in West Cheshire, after its social work teams were criticised by Ofsted inspectors.

Every current case file on a child potentially at risk will be reviewed by a team of independent experts to ensure that appropriate safeguarding action is being taken.

It follows an unannounced inspection of social work teams at Cheshire West and Chester council by Ofsted, which ruled that some children were at risk of significant harm because of poor practices.

In its report, Ofsted warned that its findings could lead to the downgrading of the authority’s children’s services department – now rated three stars and performing well – to two stars and “performing poorly”.

This would have ranked the service among the worst in the country.

An examination of around 150 files has now been ordered by council leader Mike Jones and chief executive Steve Robinson, chairman of West Cheshire Children’s Trust.

A team of experts has been brought in from outside authorities to carry out a comprehensive study of the actions being taken in each case known to children’s services.

Cllr Jones said: “All files from across the borough will be examined, and if it is found that our procedures do not meet the highest standards, then action will be taken immediately to remedy the situation.

“Sadly, no authority can totally protect its children from those who are minded to harm them, but I am determined that we are seen to be doing everything we can to prevent them from harm – whatever that takes.”

He added: “We have responded to these findings, but it seems as though there is little we can do about the process which, somewhat unfairly, will affect the complete service.

“However, we acknowledge that the inspectors are unhappy with things they found with regard to some child protection investigations and the review of all our case files by independent experts will be just one of the actions we intend to take.

“We were desperately unhappy with the safeguarding service inherited on local government reorganisation, and a tremendous amount of work has been done to improve the way we work in this vital area.”