Following my request to meet with the Secretary of State for Children, School and Families last week – I was given a short meeting with Beverley Hughes the Minister. The reason I wanted to meet was to really find out more about the terms of reference and remit of the urgent investigation Ed Balls has ordered.
I asked if it would be made public – and am assured it will be following the department’s decision on what comes next.
I asked if the three inspectorates would be including any public and service user information to inform their investigations. She said it was up to them.
Would it look at the political leadership – as the political leadership is made accountable under the Children’s Act of 2004 – brought in as a measure because last time with Victoria Climbie there was no actual senior officer or politician held accountable in the end?
I raised this because there is a willingness to look at the health, social services, and police – all welcome – but, so far, almost no desire to look at the political part in all of this – both ministerial and local administration. The Children’s Act places clear responsibility on the political (as opposed to staff) side of councils, and so the question of how councillors behaved has a legal point to it beyond the obvious ‘they’re in ultimate charge, so they hold responsibility’ point.
I’ve blogged already about some of my concerns on how Haringey Council has – at both the senior staff and political level – failed to react properly to concerns raised with them.
The Minister said there was no instruction to do so – but that we (myself and local Liberal Democrats) were welcome to talk to the inspectors ourselves. So we will.
All in all – good to see the steps now being taken, but plenty of work ahead to ensure that in the end all the relevant issues are looked at and the right issues learnt.