Lawyer Supports Inquiry Into Birmingham Social Services’ Failures

Child protection failures to be investigated

23.01.2009

A leading lawyer who specialises in child abuse claims has welcomed an inquiry into child protection failures in Birmingham after eight children known to social services died within three years.

A recent report by children's services watchdog Ofsted detected "inadequacies" in Birmingham City Council's ability to safeguard vulnerable children. Now a Government intervention team, consisting of experts from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), has been sent to liaise with Birmingham Social Services.

Jonathan Peacock, a partner with law firm Irwin Mitchell, deals with claims where social workers / social services have been professionally negligent. He said: "The decision to send a government intervention team to work with Birmingham social services is a step in the right direction though long overdue.

"Whilst cases of children's deaths are extreme examples, it is certainly the case that we see many examples of situations which highlight inadequacies of the social services teams in Birmingham - including cases where children who are clearly in vulnerable, abusive and neglectful situations are left for too long before action is taken."

"Over the last few years, regrettably, we have had a number of referrals where social workers have failed to take appropriate action to protect children.  We have seen evidence of systematic and operational failures leading to terrible injuries and abuse.

"With both Haringey and Doncaster Social Services making the headlines recently, these failures are not just confined to the Birmingham area but indicate a far more worrying and widespread pattern of failures.

"Now that the intervention team has been appointed to work with Birmingham and nationally this issue is being highlighted more, I hope we will begin to see some lessons being learnt and improvements made."