Welsh Government plans to step in over council’s continued child safeguarding failures

The Welsh Government is again threatening to step in and take over child safeguarding duties at Pembrokeshire County Council following yet more stinging criticism of the authority’s performance.

In a very strongly worded written statement and a letter to council leader Jamie Adams, Welsh Government ministers have outlined a series of major concerns about the way the council carries out child safeguarding arrangements.

The letter from Education Minister Leighton Andrews and Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services Gwenda Thomas runs to six pages and details major areas of concern.

It says: “The Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board [the body the Welsh Government put in place following previous child safeguarding failures] inform us that progress in improving child safeguarding is still worryingly slow.

“The indications are that senior officers in the authority do not accept the need to change the authority’s approach to safeguarding.

“On occasions, chief officers appear either not to know what is happening in the authority’s schools or do know but then fail to disclose information appropriately (to the PMB or other officers or council members) or take appropriate action.

“On May 27th the PMB advised the Welsh Ministers that in its view senior officers in the authority do not see the need for change in the culture and modes of operation which it has always followed. on the contrary it wishes to see them preserved.”

The letter adds: “The PMB reports that any overt co-operation by senior officers is generally little more than window dressing. Actions tend to be reactive and are only taken under prompts from the PMB, the inspectorates or the Welsh Government.

“There also remains within the authority a culture where elected members seem unable to submit officers to proper scrutiny and challenge and officers and frontline staff are afraid to disclose concerns.”

It adds: “In light of all this, we wonder what confidence you, or for that matter, we, can have in your senior officers.”

The ministers have asked for a response from Cllr Adams by 5pm on June 22nd.

They add: “We must be satisfied that children in Pembrokeshire are safe, and will continue to be safe after the PMB has left.”