Havering children’s services director remains optimistic despite Ofsted criticism

From left, Havering Council's head of clinical practice Dave Tapsell, director of children's service

From left, Havering Council's head of clinical practice Dave Tapsell, director of children's services Tim Aldridge, and Robert South head of care resources - Credit: Archant

Despite Ofsted inspectors rating a vulnerable children’s service as requiring improvement, its department head remains optimistic.

A report published in December, found social workers inconsistently sought consent from parents to place children in care when thresholds had been met, the out-of-hours service – emergency duty team (EDT) – did not respond effectively to child protection needs and police were inconsistent in attending key meetings.

But Tim Aldridge, director of Havering Council’s children’s services, has downplayed criticism.

“We are with the majority of the country,” he said.

“A requires improvement rating is consistent with the adequate rating but the framework has changed and 50 per cent [of other councils] are either requires improvement or inadequate.”

Responding to the police criticisms, Havering’s Ch Supt Jason Gwillim added : “We are working hard with the local authority to address the issues raised by the Ofsted report.

“We recognise that there are improvements to be made and the Metropolitan Police Service is determined to make them as quickly as possible.”

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But Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton, Lab) said: “These things ought to have been picked up by the overview and scrutiny committee long before the report.

“My question is why not, what have they been doing?

“Councillors get an additional allowance effectively to become full time councillors running these services.

“They should have the time to become experts in the departments they oversee.

“But in Havering they do not work independent of the council to provide proper oversight, that’s why its a contributing factor as to why it’s not doing so well.”

Mr Aldridge remains confident that the department will improve.

“We have got a clear vision about what we need to achieve and are seeing early signs of improvement,” he said.

“We have a new senior leadership team in place and we are recruiting more senior staff.

“We have the vision and the drive to make the changes necessary.”

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