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MP challenges county council over further failings in Childrens Services

May 31, 2012 3:44 PM

Tim Farron MP at Kendal Nursery SchoolCumbrian MP Tim Farron has today stepped up his criticism of the county council after news came to light that while senior staff were trying to publicly defend a critical report, they had also mistakenly sent confidential children's case details to a third party.

The council this week was blasted by a critical report from the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted which identified the overall effectiveness of safeguarding looked-after children inCumbriaas inadequate.

The report said that five areas of children's services inCumbriawere inadequate, including the overall effectiveness of safeguarding services. The inspection, conducted during April, gauged the care and support received by children by speaking to young people, carers, staff and managers. The concerns raised within the report included insufficient risk assessment, weakness in how children were supported to stay healthy and the quality of provision provided to children.

But on the same day Cumbria County Council was forced to apologise after sending confidential details of a child welfare case to the wrong family.

A letter was sent out at the weekend to a man involved with social services - but not about his case. He was mistakenly sent details of another man and details of a child welfare meeting.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was shocked to open the letter - sent to the house he has lived in for last 24 years. The letter, which was dated May 25, mentions a social worker Richard Glover and a conference and review officer, Richard McAllister.

Tim will be asking the national Information Commissioner to investigate the case and the mishandling of confidential and potentially sensitive data.

Tim has also suggested that the County Council should urgently change the way they scrutinise Childrens Services. It has been revealed thatCountyCouncillorsare not able to hold Children's Services to account properly at the moment because the Cumbria Children's Trust does not report to any of the County's Scrutiny Committees. This lack of transparency may have contributed to some of the failings.

Tim said: "On a day when County Council managers were attempting to defend themselves, we have the appalling irony of another dreadful mistake - compromising the privacy of a vulnerable young person. The County need to get a grip, they have spent this week trying to deflect criticism, claiming that the report is not as bad as it looks when they should be showing contrition, a concern for vulnerable children and a determination to make things better.

"I will be asking the Information Commissioner to look into this case and I am calling on the County Council to publish an action plan to rectify the situation."