Thursday, October 19, 2017

Failure in Powys Children’s Services.

About two years ago a constituent called my office, concerned about the safety of a child, and dissatisfaction with the response of Powys Council’s Children’s Servics Department. I cannot communicate any information about the case. It’s a fundamental principle that any constituent (or non constituent) can be assured of total confidentiality when they speak to me. That’s one reason why I often ignore questions of Facebook. At the time, I asked one of my caseworkers to take a close look at the case. I was disturbed by what I was told, and raised the issue with Powys County Council, at both an officer and political level.
The Council response was very disappointing. Actually it was worse than that. I thought there was an almost total lack of recognition of the seriousness of the case. I try never to let my work get to me. I see so much awfulness in the world. Every MP does. I’d never sleep. But that single case caused me real worry and sleeplessness. I felt the safety of a very young child was at serious risk. I made contact with another English Council which had an involvement. And escalated my contact with the Council to the highest level I reasonably could. I was not prepared to make anything public, and I’m still not naming names - in public anyway. The confidentiality factor is too important to my work. But I needed to be certain I had done what I could, explaining to the Council that I could not let this matter be brushed under the carpet. I knew about it, was not prepared to be complicit, and was not prepared to let it go.
I do not know whether my involvement has had an impact on the report into the failings of Powys Council’s Children’s Services Department. I would be very pleased if it had. I had hoped for a briefing on the report last Friday, before it was published. But it was cancelled. Bearing in mind all the above, I was not one bit surprised by the Report’s findings. As always, I suspect my experience is only the merest tip of what has been happening. The truth will out.
We have seen only the first chapter of this scandal. And scandal it is. We’re told the police are now involved due to falsification of documents. I would be surprised if a whole lot more does not emerge. I will have to share my experiences with anyone appointed to look in detail at what has happened. But there is one spark of optimism within this dark place. I have been encouraged by the response of the new Council Leader, Rosemarie Harris. For the first time in two years I have some confidence that the Council acknowledges the horrific scale of what has happened. That is an important first step on the road to putting things right. I’m not interested in a witch hunt, even though there may be some holding to account. I just want a proper service put in place. It’s going to take a long time, and need a lot of work before we can feel confident that Powys County Council is able to deliver acceptable Children’s Services for the county of Powys.


jude said...

Shocking that it has taken so long to bring to light. Those poor children failed by Powys county council.

Elizabeth said...

To me the most upsetting is the falsification of documents. This is a willfull Act. Other failings could be attributed to lack of time, money, experience, a culture of what is considered to be a normal way of working and so on. These reasons are also unacceptable but a wilful act designed to deliberately mislead others is dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Get the investigation to look into how officers of the Council have been able to expertly hoodwink elected members and the executive for so long (perhaps as much as a decade or more) and also hoodwink the regional safeguarding board and then leave or move jobs without the finger being pointed and then get jobs elsewhere before the s@@@ hit the fan!

Those who do not understand the detail in the history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. Do not let the investigation fall into the politically correct trap of saying that it is not about blame. There are many who are culpable.Children and families, foster carers and staff who have been (and still are) directly and indirectly damaged by the "Powys" culture will not be satisfied with a "whitewash", or only hearing about the "lessons to be learnt".