Memo warned of children’s service problems FIVE years ago

Former children’s services boss Sue Imbriano warned council chief executive Chris Williams about her department’s failings more than five years ago, we can reveal.

By Hayley O’Keeffe
Tuesday, 30th December 2014, 2:06 pm
Memo sent by Sue Imbriano to Chris Williams in November 2009
Memo sent by Sue Imbriano to Chris Williams in November 2009

Mrs Imbriano, who retired this year following a damning Ofsted report which said the county council was putting children at risk, titled the memo ‘Concerns Around Safeguarding’.

These concerns included the ‘robustness of risk assessment’, ‘increasing caseloads’, ‘backlog of cases’ and ‘quantity and quality’ of referrals.

She also highlights budgetary pressures including ‘emerging overspends’ and the lack of ‘capacity’ to turn around the service ‘to stop these things happening in the future’. The memo, dated November 11, 2009, was obtained by The Bucks Herald via a Freedom of Information request. Despite Mrs Imbriano’s concerns, Ofsted still awarded the department a ‘good’ rating when it visited in 2011.

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Last month we revealed that Mrs Imbriano had also sent a letter to Mr Williams in January 2014 warning him about the ‘unacceptably high level of risk in terms of the safeguarding of children’, six months before Ofsted revisited the department and labelled it ‘inadequate’.

The council blamed budgeting and demand pressures. It has recently ploughed more than £8million into bringing the department up to scratch.

Trevor Boyd, strategic director for children and young people at the council, said the letter ‘formed part of the normal process of the council, with Mrs Imbriano 
informing the chief executive of a number of issues they needed to discuss when they met’.

He added: “Twelve months later, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted inspected the council’s safeguarding and looked-after children services and rated them as ‘good’.”