Bradford’s children’s services left children at serious risk of harm

The local authorities children’s department has been stripped of all control after being given a number of poor ratings from Ofsted.

Ofsted inspectors have identified ‘widespread and serious failures’ within all aspects of Bradford’s children’s social care. Originally rating them as ‘inadequate’ in 2018, services have continued to decline. 

aerial view of green trees and brown concrete building during daytime

In a report – published in January by Ofsted, once they had conducted investigations in November and December 2022 – experts said the failures they uncovered left children either ‘at risk of harm’ or ‘in situations of continued harm’. Additionally, investigators discovered children under the care of Bradford’s Children’s Services felt extremely unsettled. 

Due to staff shortages, children experienced a delay in having their needs properly addressed. The department is now being taken over by a Children’s Trust in April, after years of poor performance.

The report was published after a review came out of Bradford’s children’s services in the wake of toddler Star Hobson’s murder in 2020, resulting in Bradford Council being stripped of control of children.

Last year Commissioner, Steve Walker, launched a review of Bradford children’s services following the toddlers murder, which occurred following months of ‘neglect, cruelty and injury’ by her mother and her partner.

Relatives criticised the social services response to a number of referrals raising alarm over Star’s treatment, with her great-grandmother saying she had warned Bradford Council about the severity of the situation yet, no action was taken.

In response to the Ofsted report, Bradford council issued a statement. The councils chief Executive, Kersten England, said: ‘There has been a huge commitment and investment in implementing the improvement in children’s social care and Ofsted acknowledges that there have been some small recent improvements under the leadership of the newly appointed Director of Children’s Services.

‘We know, however, that much more is needed. This is why the council, along with the government’s Children’s Commissioner and the Department for Education, took the decision to establish a trust to manage children’s social care services.

‘The Bradford Children and Families Trust will provide a strong basis for our dedicated team of staff to continue to improve services for children and families across the district. It will provide clear direction and the opportunity to draw on resources and expertise nationally so that we can make improvements for children and young people sooner.’

Whilst Ofsted have helped children in Bradford receive better care after their ratings deemed the council’s service’s not good enough, the organisation, however, was recently found to have previously rated children’s homes in Doncaster as ‘good’ despite staff abusing children. 

Photo by Gary Butterfield


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