7:01am Tuesday 24th April 2012
By Mike Wilkinson
Vulnerable children in Wiltshire have been exposed to a significant risk of harm by Wiltshire Council's failed child protection team, inspectors have said.
Leader of the council Jane Scott admitted that findings by Ofsted inspectors were "not good enough".
Police and health authorities also came under fire in the report which said 17 cases out of 92 inspected left inspectors concerned.
The council has pumped an emergency £500,000 from its reserves into the children's services department in a bid to turn around its fortunes.
Inspectors found 'significant failings' in child protection work. There were oversights by managers who were tasked with minimising risks to children, while child protection plans were not issued when they should have been.
Cllr Scott said: "Inspections are difficult but necessary. We don't hide away from them and we fully accept it wasn't good enough."
It has emerged that the council was aware the department had problems last November when it carried out its own review.
Carolyn Godfrey, corporate director for children's services, said: "It was not just the managers that were not robust but the quality control was not there either. We did have some concerns when we did our own review.
"We were putting the changes in just when the inspectors arrived."
The two-week inspection, carried out in March, said that the council's 'looked after' children's services were adequate and that they had adequate capacity to turn around the 'inadequate' finding for safeguarding services.
Inspectors praised the council for not cutting its budget and said that its interventions had a strong child-focus.
An independent board will now be established to monitor the department's work more closely, while inspectors are expected to return in six to nine months to check on progress.
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