Is another OFSTED inspection failure looming for Tower Hamlets?

The objective of the Tower Hamlets Children’s Safeguarding Board (LCSB) is ”Keeping children safe in Tower Hamlets”. To meet this objective the LCSB has to ensure that all of the relevant agencies work together.

One way this is done is by LSCB Operational Group meetings.

Agencies that attend LSCB Operational Group meetings include teaching professionals forums, Tower Hamlets police, numerous parts of the Council, housing, the NHS Clinical Commission Group, the voluntary sector and Bart’s Health Trust to name a few.

You can find the minutes of the Operational Group Minutes for the last 12 months here. Click on any of the Operational Group Minutes to see the numerous representatives of these groups who should attend.

In the OFSTED report last April the non-attendance of the Lead Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Rachael Saunders at the time, at the LSCB meetings was mentioned as one reason why Tower Hamlets failed its Children’s Services inspection.

Page 32 of the Children’s Safeguarding Board Annual Report

The image above is taken from page 32 of the Children’s Safeguarding Board Annual Report which you can find here. This is a table showing who has been attending each meeting of the Tower Hamlets Children’s Safeguarding Board in the last year.

  • Children’s Social Care only attended two of four meetings, not even sending a Deputy (this is the lead department)
  • Public Health attended one out of four meetings
  • Youth & Community Services two out of four meetings
  • Youth Justice and Family Interventions only one out of four
  • Community Safety two out of four

Only the Education & Partnership had a full attendance – but three out of four attendances were by a Deputy.

“Deeply shocking”

Cllr. Andrew Wood

“The non attendance of Tower Hamlets Council officers from key departments at the Tower Hamlets Children’s Safeguarding Board is deeply shocking,” says Cllr. Andrew Wood (Conservative Canary Wharf and Conservative Group Lead).

“The Boards report says ‘Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility’ but clearly the Council do not fully agree, not even sending deputies to these important meetings. OFSTED last year failed our Children’s Services department in part prompted by a key person from the Council not attending these important quarterly meetings.

We still have lessons to learn about keeping children safe”.

LW asked the Council for an explanation of this.

The first reply they sent was not detailed enough so we asked again and got this:

“Emergency situations”

“The annual report of the Tower Hamlets Local Safeguarding Children Board (THLSCB) reflects the attendance of specific members. In the case of children’s social care this was the Divisional Director (DD). On the two occasions when apologies were given by that person, emergency situations had arisen and the DD contacted the chair prior to the meeting to say they would not be able to attend. The chair was satisfied that other senior members of children’s social care services would be present at the meeting.

At the recent Cabinet meeting the chair of the THLSCB presented the annual report and confirmed that the formal decision making responsibilities sit with the executive board of the THLSCB at which there has been 100% attendance.”

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