Stoke & Staffordshire

Cheshire East Children's Services 'inadequate'

Some vulnerable children in East Cheshire are being failed by the local authority, according to Ofsted.

During an inspection in March, inspectors found council arrangements meant some children were being put at increased risk of harm.

Ofsted said some allegations were not thoroughly investigated and some risks were not being identified.

Cheshire East Council said the report was "a fair reflection of some areas of our practice".

Conservative leader of the council Michael Jones said: "Whilst the inspection identified that there were no children or young people where immediate action was needed to protect them from significant harm, we accept that, in a small number of cases, our way of responding to concerns resulted in the potential for risk."

He said the local authority had been aware of the need to make changes before the Ofsted inspection, and work had already started to improve Children's Services.

Sexual exploitation

Mr Jones said a new unit to handle all contacts for the the department had been launched on Monday.

The council's handling of child protection contacts and referrals was criticised by inspectors.

Ofsted also highlighted that some cases were being closed prematurely, including those where children may be at risk of sexual exploitation.

David Newton, leader of the opposition Labour group said the council should be aiming for higher than adequate.

He said: "If we want a good or outstanding service, we need to improve some of the training and ensure there are adequate resources, which in this period of austerity is incredibly important."

There was, however, praise from Ofsted for the way the local authority handled cases in which children were at immediate risk of harm, particularly its speed of response.

The report also found there was good support for older children and young people to prevent them getting involved in anti-social behaviour.

The local authority said it had started to make some of the changes required by Ofsted, and was looking to identify further improvements.

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