Pembrokeshire must improve child protection – report

Child protection agencies in Pembrokeshire have not always worked effectively, and improvements are needed, according to a report.

A review carried out by five inspectorates reveals a “lack of strategic leadership”.

It follows two highly-critical reports, one of which identified problems in protecting children from abuse.

Pembrokeshire council said it had received the latest report, and was studying its contents.

The review was carried out by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn), and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP).

It was ordered by Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, after a CSSIW and Estyn investigation in August, which raised questions about the quality of joint working to safeguard and protect children in education services.

The joint review found every agency delivering services to children and young people needs to improve their management arrangements in response to all allegations of professional abuse.

Imelda Richardson, chief inspector of CSSIW, said: “The inspection found that generally, the multi-agency response to allegations of professional abuse was not sufficiently child-focused, and we have identified several key improvements that are necessary.

“This confirms the findings in the earlier joint investigation report by CSSIW and Estyn in relation to handling allegations of abuse against staff in education.

Ministerial board

“Inspectors did note some positive factors – most notably a willingness to work together between some experienced and committed individual practitioners and professionals.

“They need the support and commitment of the leadership of their organisations, and the Pembrokeshire LSCB, if safeguarding arrangements for children in Pembrokeshire is to improve.”

The earlier joint CSSIW and Estyn inquiry followed 25 cases of alleged professional abuse between 2007 and 2011.

Some of those cases concerned primary school head teacher David Thorley, who was jailed in May 2009 for nine sex assaults against children.

Estyn said the authority met or exceeded only seven of the 12 Welsh government benchmark expectations for the last four years.

A ministerial board was later set up to help tackle the failings identified.