Council where teen abused foster carers’ children was warned for years about failings, claims union

THE sexual abuse of a foster family’s children by a teenager in their care was part of “systemic failures” in a council’s social services, a union has claimed.

Public sector union Unison said it had raised concerns about the Vale of Glamorgan’s social services department over several years but they had been ignored.

The council had to apologise in February after a 19-year-old man admitted in court that he had sexually assaulted the two young children of his foster carers.

Despite being aware of the teenager’s history of sexually inappropriate behaviour, the council had not warned the family.

Unison’s regional manager Dawn Bowden said: “This is a shocking case of abuse. Unison brought to the attention of the council, over a number of years, systemic failures and the absence of heads of service direction, including, more recently, specific concerns in dealing with this case, but these warnings were ignored.”

She called for the planned independent review of the case to be widened to cover what she said were longstanding failures in the department.

And she accused the council of looking for scapegoats. Three social workers and managers have already been suspended and more disciplinary action has been promised.

On Monday, social services director Philip Evans said they had been guilty of a “chain of errors” after an inquiry, overseen by the NSPCC, found a series of failings in the social services department and described social workers as naive.

Ms Bowden said: “It is not good enough to just look at the past three months immediately prior to the terrible event and we want the Local Safeguarding Children Board to examine the full history of the case.

“Monday’s statements by the council ignored the history of the case and sought to put the blame solely (but unfairly in Unison’s view) on the shoulders of the individual social workers.

“Before any internal disciplinary processes have been completed, the director of social services has pronounced our members guilty as charged.

“This is completely against the principles of natural justice. We will not allow our members to be scapegoated in this way.

“Systemic failures must be brought out into the open and dealt with. If they are not, then members of the public and users cannot have full confidence that this could not happen again.”

The Vale of Glamorgan council did not comment yesterday. Social services director Mr Evans said on Monday staff would be scrutinised by the Care Council for Wales.

A spokesman for the Assembly Government said it was considering what action to take but was determined action should be taken to prevent a repeat of the incident.

He said: “In her statement in response to the Vale of Glamorgan report, the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, said it is clear mistakes were made and that she has asked the Chief Inspector of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales to advise her on how the issues raised in the report are taken forward.

“The Chief Inspector wrote to the Director of Social Services on Monday to clarify a range of issues raised by the report. We have given the authority until May 29 to respond, after which the Deputy Minister will consider whether further action is required. “