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Northamptonshire social services failing to keep children safe, says Ofsted

Watchdog says staff indecisive and complacent, leaving children at risk for too long

Social services at the Tory-run Northamptonshire county council are failing to keep children safe, according to an Ofsted report that identifies weaknesses across a range of services that support vulnerable young people.

The report is the latest blow for the council, which declared effective bankruptcy last year and has spent the 18 months since then coming to terms with half a decade of chronic mismanagement and spending cuts.

Last month the council’s child protection services were criticised in two inquiry reports on how two toddlers known to social services were murdered by men with histories of domestic violence, crime and drug use.

Ofsted said its inspection, carried out in mid-June, found Northamptonshire’s child protection services were inadequate. Staff were too often slow to act, indecisive and complacent, with the result that children at risk of neglect or abuse were left in harmful situations for too long.

It said social workers and team managers were often over-optimistic about the capacity of some parents to look after their children in chronically neglectful situations, and too willing to accept parents’ versions of events.

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