Northampton

Under-fire Northamptonshire council 'failing to keep children safe'

Northamptonshire county council Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Northamptonshire County Council children's services had been rated "inadequate" by Ofsted

A council that was found to have failed to protect two murdered children is still "failing to keep children safe", according to its latest Ofsted report.

Northamptonshire County Council's children's services was rated "inadequate" by Ofsted inspectors.

The service had "declined" since the last full inspection in 2016, the report said.

Earlier this year, two serious case reviews found it had failed to protect murdered children.

Dylan Tiffin-Brown, two, and Evelyn-Rose Muggleton, one, were victims of separate murders in Northamptonshire.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Dylan Tiffin-Brown had five different types of drugs in his body when he died

Raphael Kennedy, Dylan's father, and Ryan Coleman, the partner of Evelyn-Rose's mother, were both jailed for life.

At the time of the reviews, children's commissioner for England Anne Longfield said the authority had "failed to protect the most vulnerable children" and had a "dysfunctional safeguarding system".

'Recognise the failings'

Ofsted's lead inspector Pauline Higham said in her report last month there was a "range of significant weaknesses" in the county's children's services.

"There are highly vulnerable children in care who are living in unregulated placements that are unsafe and unsuitable," the report said.

Some children who had left care were now "vulnerable and homeless", it said.

But there had been "key improvements" since a new management team came into children's services, and there had been "progress" since Ofted's focused visit in October 2018, the report said.

Caseloads for social workers were lower and decision-making in the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) were timelier, it said.

Image caption Sally Hodges, director of Northamptonshire children's services, said she was determined to build on the signs of progress found by Ofsted

Director of Northamptonshire children's services Sally Hodges said she "accepted the findings" and "recognised the failings" in the report.

"We are pleased Ofsted recognise that we now have in place the right plans to improve our services," she said.

The councillor responsible for children's services on the Conservative-run authority, Fiona Baker, said she "was determined to tackle the weaknesses identified".

A Department for Education spokesperson said that there was a plan to set up a children's services trust for Northamptonshire.

"The latest rating underlines the importance of swift action to raise standards and ensure the welfare and protection of children in the region," they added.

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