Rochdale Council child protection 'inadequate', says Ofsted report

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An Ofsted report has found child protection at Rochdale Borough Council to be "inadequate".

Findings identified "gaps in service provision", but no children were found to be "at significant risk from harm".

The unannounced inspection, focused on safeguarding children from sexual exploitation, came after a grooming ring was uncovered in the town.

Gladys Rhodes White, Children's Services director at the council, said she was "disappointed" by the findings.

The report stated that the inspection follows the launch of Operation Span, carried out by Greater Manchester Police from 2010.

Nine men were given sentences from four to 19 years after being found guilty of child sex offences in May.

Ofsted said: "The overall effectiveness of the arrangements to protect children in Rochdale Borough Council is inadequate".

The results of the ten day inspection, held in November, gave leadership and management an overall "inadequate" rating.

'Tough year'

Ofsted said previous senior leaders at the council "lacked urgency in driving the strategic momentum of responding to child sexual exploitation".

It added that recent appointments to the council, including a new chief executive in May, were "beginning to drive improvement forward".

Quality of practice and effectiveness of help and and protection were found as "adequate".

The report praised social workers as being "very committed to helping children and protecting them from harm".

Ms Rhodes White, who is interim executive director, said the outcome was fair.

She said: "Today's report makes a number of very clear recommendations for the council and our partners.

"Although previous concerns about leadership and management have affected our overall rating I was pleased to see that the strengths of our new arrangements were highlighted."

"This has been a tough year, but the inspectors identified many positive improvements that we are firmly building on."

She added: "We will get stronger by the time Ofsted come back".

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