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Kingston Council under fire for 'failing to safeguard children'
Kingston Council social workers are reviewing every child protection decision made in the last three months to make sure no children have been put in danger.
The review follows a damning Ofsted inspection report, made public today, which classed the council’s safeguarding of children as inadequate.
In one case, a vulnerable young person regularly went missing despite information suggesting she had been putting herself at considerable risk, according to the Ofsted report.
Another case was closed despite a young person suffering significant harm.
And in a third case, the council did not deal properly with a domestic violence murder.
The inspection found “serious failings...[in] child protection, particularly with regard to children and young people who had already been identified as suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm and who were subject to child protection plans”.
Kingston Council’s chief executive, Bruce McDonald, and council leader, Councillor Derek Osbourne, said the results were unacceptable.
Mr McDonald said: “All we can say is this isn’t acceptable and that we have reacted as strongly and positively as we can.”
The report follows a two-week inspection by Ofsted which resulted in the council scoring inadequate for overall effectiveness at safeguarding children and adequate in safeguarding looked-after children.
The report said “the council has not adequately addressed all the areas identified in their internal management review of a domestic violence homicide”.
Coun Osbourne said: “We have been found wanting [and] when we have had a national report for being outstanding before, it is a huge blow.”
He added: “Providing a service that is assessed as inadequate is simply not good enough for our residents.
“Kingston Council has a duty to provide the very highest levels of safeguarding for children and young people.”
Kingston Council said that as a previously high scoring authority in children’s safeguarding assessments it was one of a number of councils at the sharp end of what it called “an increasingly vigorous inspection criteria” but took full responsibility for failings.
Coun Osbourne said he would personally oversee a tough improvement plan to ensure young people in Kingston were safeguarded as well as possible.
Kingston Council’s director of children’s services Duncan Clark has resigned, teachers and governors were told in a letter on Friday.
Richmond Council’s director of children’s services, Nick Whitfield, has taken over as joint director for Richmond and Kingston’s new "safer together" improvement plan.
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