Watchdog Expands On Council’s Report Failings

Serious shortcomings in the monitoring of violent offenders in the community have been highlighted by Scotland’s social work watchdog, which blamed poor leadership for a catalogue of failures. The Social Work Inspection Agency (SWIA) said staff in Dumfries and Galloway must also make better use of risk assessments to analyse the risk of criminals re-offending. In its first full report on social work performance in Scotland, inspectors also described strategic leadership as “unsatisfactory” and raised questions about quality of services provided to the public.

The report also criticised management for continuing to send vulnerable elderly people to a care home after a closure order had been served on the establishment.

A separate report, also published yesterday, found that in most cases involving violent offenders the level of supervision by social workers was deemed to be ‘poor’ or only ‘adequate’.

The performance report praises front-line staff for their efforts but said people with mental health and substance abuse problems, as well as children leaving care, did not receive a good service.

SWIA chief inspector Alexis Jay said: “Today’s reports show that significant improvements are required to social work services in Dumfries and Galloway. The council is providing a good service in some areas, but there are a number of things that must be improved.

“We will work with the council to agree action plans in response to these reports, to make sure the necessary changes are carried out.” The council’s chief executive, Philip Jones, said it was working on an action plan to address the failings.

The SWIA criticism came as Lord Laming, who headed an inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie, urged agencies in Scotland to learn the lessons from the infamous child abuse case.

Lord Laming said a “new vision” was needed to ensure the risk to vulnerable children was minimised. But he praised Scottish authorities for a “robust” response to his findings, which identified a chronic failure among social work, police, health and other agencies to intervene and prevent the horrendous abuse suffered by Victoria, who was tortured to death in London.