SOLIHULL children in need of help and protection have to wait ‘too long’ to be assessed, according to a report into the borough’s safeguarding services.
The Joint Targeted Area Inspection, which was launched by education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, following the tragic death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, looked into how organisations work together to protect young people in the borough from harm.
It found a number of other failings across the multi-agency response used in Solihull and called for urgent action to be taken.
While the inspection hasn’t looked into the circumstances of Arthur’s death specifically, it found a number of improvements needed from those providing local services.
The report, published on Monday, found that parents’ details were entered incorrectly into police databases, leaving children at risk of potential harm.
Inspectors said they saw examples of separate records for the same person because their name had been spelled incorrectly, while children had not been linked on the system to family relatives who could pose a risk to them.
It also noted some children had to wait over a month before they had an initial review of their needs and risk assessed.
The report noted Solihull Council ‘leaders responded promptly to this and put in place interim measures to address the backlog of work’.
The report also found local children’s safeguarding services in Solihull have undergone frequent changes in personnel for a significantly long period of time and have become understaffed.
The murder of Arthur has made “social workers highly reluctant to work in Solihull either on a permanent or agency basis”, it stated.
Solihull MP, Julian Knight, said: “The report highlights a number of issues around capacity and staffing, which in turn, means that Children in need of help are waiting too long for their initial need and risk to be assessed.
“I have received assurances from the acting director for Children’s Services at Solihul Council that staffing levels have risen significantly over recent months.
“In addition, ahead of the Council’s Budget setting on Thursday, I welcome that the Conservative Group intends to support the Children’s Services Department with additional ongoing funding of £5.8million in the next financial year, rising to £6million by 2024/25.”
Joanna Barrett, NSPCC nations head of policy, said: “It’s hugely concerning that this inspection has found systemic problems with the ‘front door’ of safeguarding services which mean a significant number of children are waiting far too long for their initial assessment, leaving them at risk of harm and cruelty.
“It is absolutely crucial that safeguarding agencies in Solihull are better resourced and work together more quickly and efficiently to share information and intervene as early as possible to prevent any more tragedies like the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.”