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Bradford sees huge rise in child protection cases
6:31am Monday 30th June 2014 in News
NUMBERS of youngsters on child protection plans in Bradford have soared to almost double the level of last year, leaving the authorities under increased pressure.
Figures for last year show 370 child protection plans, which are put in place when the authorities are aware children are at risk, were in place in the city and by February that had risen to 550.
However, the latest figure is now 675 with many of the recently identified cases involving East European families who have settled in the area.
The figures were revealed when councillors examined an Ofsted report which found that improvement was required in the early help and child protection work offered by Bradford Council.
Bradford is alone in the Yorkshire region in seeing such an increase in its case-load and the volume of cases meant extra pressure on the staff who deal with the work.
Case conferences should happen within 15 days of investigations starting, but the numbers meeting that deadline had fallen to 20 per cent.
"At the moment, with additional resources, we are back up to 66 per cent of conferences happening on time. We are making a concerted effort," said Julie Jenkins, assistant director of children's specialist services.
Councillor Malcolm Sykes, chairman of the children's services scrutiny committee, said: "As far as I am concerned this is serious.
"I want to see progress against the actions next time around.
"We cannot risk this going wrong, we cannot afford to have children at risk through a lack of resources."
It is understood that Bradford currently has no social workers from an East European background and there had also been problems in recruiting minute-takers who were able to deal with the material discussed at case conferences.
The committee will look again at progress in the autumn and also examine in more detail the issue of increased demand on Council services.
The Ofsted report examined five areas and found performance on adoption, care leavers, leadership and governance and the Bradford Safeguarding Board were all good.
Julie Jenkins said she had written to Government inspection body Ofsted to highlight apparent contradictions in the area of its report covering neglect issues.
"I wrote to Ofsted and said they had contradicted themselves by saying in places we had dealt with neglect and in other places that we had not," she said.
Last month Ofsted released a report of its inspections into the both the Council's safeguarding children board and its services for children in care or needing protection.
Despite getting a “good” rating in five out of six areas, including the effectiveness of the safeguarding board, inspectors said that overall the services “required improvement” because of some issues in the way in which the Council dealt with vulnerable children.
But inspectors praised, among other things, how the Council has been tackling sexual grooming.