‘Failing’ child protection services back on track

Simon Blackburn
Simon Blackburn

Blackpool’s child protection service is finally back on track three years after it was branded ‘unacceptable’.

The Government has lifted an improvement notice that was placed on the council in November 2012 after Government inspectors demanded improvements.

I was the first to hold my hands up in 2012 and admit that our child protection services just were not good enough.

An Ofsted report in July 2012 described the authority’s performance as ‘failing’ and gave it a rating of ‘inadequate’ across all areas of responsibility in relation to the protection of children from harm.

But following a radical overhaul which has included recruiting more social workers, working more closely with other agencies such as the police, and reviewing procedures, the Government has praised the “significant improvement” made by the service.

Edward Timpson, minister for Children and Families, has written to Blackpool Council Leader Coun Simon Blackburn to lift the improvement notice.

In his letter Mr Timpson says Blackpool “has made good progress in addressing the issues raised in Ofsted’s July 2012 inspection” and adds this “represents a significant improvement in child protection social work practice”.

Mr Timpson also says: “My officials have reported a strong sense of commitment, passion and pride in Blackpool’s staff.”

He also acknowledged the council’s “bold and ambitious” plans for the future and says he is pleased children’s services will “continue to be prioritised”.

Coun Blackburn said: “I was the first to hold my hands up in 2012 and admit that our child protection services just were not good enough.

“The findings in the report were horrifying and I am not ashamed to admit that I lost sleep over it.

“The last three years has seen a radical overhaul of our children’s services.

“We have examined and where necessary improved every step of every process.

“It is particularly pleasing to see the hard work of the staff acknowledged. It is clear to see that our staff are committed and passionate about protecting the town’s children but it is great that the Department for Education witnessed it for themselves.

“Today, we have 441 children in care in Blackpool. That is an awful lot of children not living with their parents and it comes at a great cost to the local authority.

“What we can be sure of is that we are making the right decisions at the right time and every child is receiving the level of care that they deserve from the council.”