A HIGH Court judge has slammed Cheshire East Council, after ruling it made ‘serious mistakes’ in handling the case of an 11-month-old girl who had been injured by her own mother.
The girl twice suffered serious head injuries inflicted by her mother – neither of whom can be identified for legal reasons – leaving the council in charge of securing long-term care.
Mr Justice MacDonald ruled that the council’s social services staff had been ‘lackadaisical’ in assessing possible carers, thus delaying a final decision being reached on the girl’s future.
Calling the assessments of her maternal aunt and paternal great aunt and uncle ‘fundamentally flawed’ after sections of the report were found to be copied and pasted, Mr Justice MacDonald ordered the council to pay for an independent social worker’s assessment.
He said: "I am entirely satisfied that the assessments completed by (the social workers) are inadequate and fundamentally flawed."
"The serious mistakes made by East Cheshire Borough Council in this case are of very real concern and must not be repeated."
"I hope that those responsible at the local authority for the unfortunate omissions I have had to deal with in this judgment will reflect on the consequences for this child and her family of their failure to comply with their professional obligations and their obligations to this court, and on the need for them to do better in the future for a child whose welfare they are charged with safeguarding and promoting."
In an earlier hearing, the court was told that the girl had been made subject to her parents’ ‘toxic and volatile’ relationship.
The judge had been due to decide on the toddler’s long-term future, but in the circumstances was forced to adjourn the case.
Kath O’Dwyer, executive director of children’s services at Cheshire East Council, said: “Cheshire East Council apologises unreservedly for the failings highlighted in the court judgement.
“It is clear that, on this occasion, the assessments carried out did not meet the high professional standards that we expect and demand of those working in children’s social care services.
“Lessons will be learned and staff training and procedures will be reviewed and reinforced to ensure such failings are not repeated.
“Cheshire East Council places paramount importance on the wellbeing and protection of its vulnerable residents, both young and old, and we will take appropriate action to ensure we deliver good quality practice that places children’s welfare as the key priority.”