Vulnerable children in safer hands since damning report

Cabinet member for children's services Heather Smith
Cabinet member for children's services Heather Smith

The authority which protects the county’s most vulnerable children is making progress after being slammed as inadequate less than two years ago.

In 2013, Ofsted found Northamptonshire County Council must get better at listening to the vulnerable and sharing information with them about risks so there are ‘no delays in keeping children safe’.

The report, which rated services in all four categories as inadequate, said most county chiefs did not work together well enough to protect those in most need.

But Ofsted inspectors have found the county council has made ‘notable improvements’ with better referrals and quicker identification of children at risk of harm.

The council was praised for building a ‘stable and able’ workforce but Ofsted said more can still be done to raise awareness of exploitation among staff, effectively review plans and analyse patterns of missing children.

Heather Smith, county council deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We have worked very hard to begin addressing the issues identified in our previous Ofsted inspection and I’m glad to see that the inspection team has recognised our commitment to improve child protection services.

“Now we need to move forward and focus on continuing to improve the help, support and intervention we provide to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in Northamptonshire.”

Kevin Crompton, who headed up children’s services of Haringey Council after the death of Baby P, was parachuted in to overhaul the department in Northants after the damning report.

But shortly afterwards, a review found the death of a four-week-old baby was because professionals did not protect her.

Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire found assessments of Maisie - not her real name - were not ‘robust enough’.

She died of natural causes in 2012 and had been sleeping with her drug addict parents on a mattress on the floor.

Mr Crompton quit after just seven months in the role because of a ‘mixture of professional and personal circumstance’ and was replaced by Catherine Boardman – who lasted less than six months herself.