Despite positive-sounding press releases from Croydon Council, Labour have been sitting on internal reports showing ‘very poor’ care for our most vulnerable children.
Children’s social care in Croydon developed the use of ‘Practice Weeks’ in the autumn of 2016. It’s a way for Croydon Council to internally inspect social services on a regular basis, helps them understand areas that need improving and (hopefully) leads to them acting on the data gathered.
During Practice Week the Council’s internal inspector takes a random sample of the cases where children require serious intervention.
Cllr Lynne Hale asked the Council to supply the number of cases assessed and the Ofsted grading awarded to each case for the past four Practice Week Audits, including the one carried out in January 2018.
Our Labour-run Council disclosed that for the practice week in January 2018:
- A total of 53 cases were audited.
- One was found to be ‘good’
- 19 ‘requires improvement’
- And 33 were found to be ‘inadequate.’
The Council is meant to respond to councillor questions within three weeks – over three months passed before this information was revealed. The delay in disclosing this damning insight conveniently covered the 2018 Council elections, denying Croydon residents the chance to consider this failure to protect our children when casting their ballots.
The Council also claimed that ‘outcomes from previous practice weeks were not formally collected so it is not possible to report upon the grading outcomes,’ essentially that they do not hold vital data to monitor their progress from Practice Week to Practice Week.
Were this true it would be deeply concerning. An internal benchmarking procedure is designed to ensure the Council can assess improvement on a regular basis themselves. Were they to not store the data then that would be a serious breach of essential standards – standards that are vital to protecting our most vulnerable children in Croydon.
But it isn’t true. Practice Week data is recorded and collated and presented back to the Croydon Safeguarding Children’s Board each time. So why is the Council trying to mislead us and the public?
Cllr Tim Pollard, Leader of Croydon’s Conservative Councillors, comments: “It is deeply upsetting that after years of knowing they have been putting our most vulnerable children in danger, that practice is still very poor.
“Our Labour Council has deliberately sat on this information for months in spite of repeated requests for the data since March. For an administration elected on the promise to be ‘open and transparent’ this clearly anything but.
“Labour issue bright-and-breezy press releases claiming all is well, yet here we see the majority of cases are still being considered to be inadequate overall.’
“Croydon’s Labour-run Council is still in denial and addicted to spin. Until they realise the severity of their actions, our children remain as vulnerable as ever.”