Kingston Council sorry over 'inadequate' services

A London council has apologised after an Ofsted report rated it as "inadequate" over the way it safeguards the protection of children.

A two-week inspection of Kingston Council's services for young people found it had consistently failed to meet its legal requirements.

In particular, it was criticised for how it dealt with children who had already suffered significant harm.

The council said it was undertaking an action plan to improve services.

Nick Whitfield, the director of children's services at neighbouring Richmond Council has been drafted in while the council's director of Learning and Children's Services, Duncan Clark, will resign after the initial phase of activity has been completed.

The report said of Kingston Council:

  • Its statutory requirements were not met consistently
  • Inconsistencies were identified in the decision-making of managers in both the safeguarding teams and the children with disabilities team in relation to new referrals that could expose vulnerable young people to further unnecessary harm
  • It has not adequately addressed all the areas identified in an internal management review of a domestic violence homicide
  • Managerial oversight at all levels is not robust and is a serious area of weakness
  • Professionals were over-optimistic about how parents were looking after young children

The report did however praise the council's multi-agency work through children's centres, the short breaks service for children with disabilities and the young carers group.

The council apologised to residents and said it was undertaking an action plan to improve the service.

Council leader Derek Osbourne said: "Providing a service that is assessed as inadequate is simply not good enough for our residents.

"Kingston Council has a duty to provide the very highest levels of safeguarding for children and young people.

"We welcome the tough scrutiny that Ofsted apply to local authorities and we will respond with an equally tough set of improvement measures."