Following the publication of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) letter on Monday 21 February, Solihull Council is preparing a written ‘statement of action’ in response to the findings of the inspection, as requested by the inspectors.
The Council has already announced the creation of an independently chaired Improvement Board. The Board will be responsible for the ‘statement of action’ and will drive through the necessary changes across all the organisations involved.
Leader of Solihull Council, Councillor Ian Courts, said:
“I acknowledge and accept the findings of the JTAI which was undertaken because of the recent court case concerning the tragic death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was killed by the very people meant to love and care for him. We cannot bring Arthur back but we can ensure that safeguarding in Solihull is as good as it can be.
“We are committed to working with our partners to deliver the required improvements, as detailed in the JTAI, to improve safeguarding in Solihull. The JTAI found several weaknesses across the partnership and within some of the organisations.
“During the JTAI we explained to inspectors that we recognised there were areas for improvement within the Council as evidenced by our existing improvement plan, but also understood we need to update this so that we can implement the necessary changes more quickly.
“We have already increased our number of social workers to make sure we can meet the rising demand and to support the work we do with partner organisations. This was acknowledged by the inspectors who said:
“The local authority leaders responded promptly to this and put in place interim measures to address the backlog of work.”
“The new Improvement Board will support, oversee, and importantly challenge partner organisations with responsibility for safeguarding children, on their progress in delivering an updated Improvement Plan.
“We have recruited an independent chair, Penny Thompson CBE, to begin the work of improving safeguarding in the borough without fear or favour. This means we can get on with improving our safeguarding practices and respond to the JTAI recommendations.
“The JTAI was specifically focused on how Solihull’s safeguarding partnership was working to prevent harm to children and young people in the borough. We have to wait for the National Panel Review due out later this year to fully understand the circumstances around Arthur’s life and any particular findings around safeguarding practice in his case.”