Ofsted head: Birmingham is “a national disgrace”

Family|News|October 20th 2013

Child protection failures in Birmingham are a “national disgrace”, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted has claimed.

Social services in the West Midlands metropolis have failed inspections seven times over the last few years, said Sir Michael Wilshaw, the organisation’s Chief Inspector. There have also been 23 serious case reviews in the city in the last seven years, each held following the death of a child or serious harm. The most recent investigated circumstances surrounding the death of two year old Keanu Williams.

Speaking to the directors of children’s services departments in London earlier this week, Mr Wilshaw said:

“What is shocking is that this is the city council with responsibility for more children than any other [in Britain].”

He added: “Why is it that nearly a third of children in the city live in households on low incomes? Why is it that infant mortality is almost twice the national average, worse than in Cuba and on a par with Latvia and Chile? As somebody said about the banks not so long ago, if they are too big to fail, they are too big. The same could be said about this council. If better governance means breaking it up so that children are better protected, then that’s what needs to happen.”

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson is reported to have told Birmingham City Council that it has one last chance to rectify the situation or action will be taken.

Ofsted also published its first annual report into social care across the country. Only three per cent of the 152 local authorities in England were rated as ‘outstanding’ in the report. One in four were judged to be ‘good’ and one in seven were rated “inadequate” with “unacceptably poor” child protection standards.

The report identifies high staff turnover in children’s departments as a key problem – the directors of one third of all children’s departments changed in a single year.

Too many local authorities were “pussyfooting” around problems families, said the Chief Inspector, instead of taking decisive action. He also called for “tough love” towards parents prone to violence and drug addiction. 

Ofsted must maintain a vigorous inspection regime, he insisted.

“To those who say we should ease up, my response is clear: ‘Whose side are you on?’ Because there is only one side that matters – that is the side of children who need protection and support.”

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  1. Paul says:

    Ofsted should force councils and their social services departments to disclose every single case where compensation has been paid to a complainant and focus some attention on these. More likely than not, some cover up has taken place with SS deciding to cough up rather than face exposure for its dodgy practices. I speak as a father who received a five figure sum in compensation after social workers had unlawfully aligned with a false accuser and colluded in the background – along with the police – to split me apart from my child. What happened was a flagrant abuse of their Article 8 obligations to actively support my child’s entitlement to a life and relationship with me, which exposed policy and practice as anti-father in bias, tailored more to the needs of a false-accusing mother than the needs of her children. I suggested to Ofsted they should look at the SS policies and practices behind my case. Instead of showing even nominal interest or curiosity, I was brushed off and ignored. These sort of low level cases are rarely picked up by Ofsted who prefer to focus on the headline cases where they can big themselves up. Consider the disgusting care home case where old people died through cruelty and neglect, a place which Ofsted had only just recently rated as good. In my opinion, they would do a far better preventative job by focussing on the prosaic and mundane as much as they do on attention-grabbing cases. Otherwise they will reduce themselves to jobsworths like those folk in the Food Standards Agency who preferred to hob-nob with horse meat processors rather than nab them.

  2. Andrew says:

    This is what happens when you resort to cliche. He means, of course, a local disgrace or a regional disgrace. Not a national disgrace.

  3. vob re says:

    Social services are a national disgrace from whatever angle you
    look from. Children torn away from extended families, promoting
    adoption rather than investing time and money in ‘Kinship care’
    Adoption as one learned judge said should be the only answer”when all else fails”.

  4. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    Obviously Paul gave this post a lot of thought.

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