The recent findings of Ofsted’s unscheduled inspection of Wandsworth children’s department, released on February 16, found the department to be “inadequate”. The report states that failures by senior managers have left “some children at risk of harm”.
Commenting on the report, Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, said “Looking after vulnerable children is one of the most important jobs a local authority does. Ofsted’s inspection report of Wandsworth’s Children’s Services is nothing short of damning”. He added “Whilst social workers within the department are praised for many aspects of their work, the Council’s leadership, management and governance were judged to be inadequate, leaving some children at risk of harm, including from sexual exploitation and including cases where children have had unexplained injuries”.
The report reveals that some care leavers are placed in temporary accommodation for long periods of time. Sadiq Khan said: “I am distressed to learn that care leavers are currently placed in Bed and Breakfast accommodation, which is unsuitable and makes these young people even more vulnerable.”
The report also reveals that some children at risk of sexual exploitation were inadequately identified and protected including children at “immediate risk of significant harm”. The report says “Practice relating to identifying and responding to young people at risk of child sexual exploitation is inconsistent and some young people have been left in potentially exploitative situations for too long”.
The report finds that 18 children who the Council had ceased to look after subsequently had to return to being looked after by the Council.
The training and employment opportunities put in place by the Council for young people leaving the children’s services department were also criticised within the report.
Sadiq Khan said: “The Council must immediately address the failures in senior management highlighted by the report and act swiftly to ensure all looked-after children in the borough, current and past, are adequately protected and supported and appropriately housed”.
The report revealed that 22% of young people in Wandsworth live “in poverty” and that Wandsworth currently has 15 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
The report is here.