Review prompts action plan

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

An independent review has highlighted concerns that Wigan social workers “over-relied” on written agreements in child protection and care cases.

Officers from the Local Government Association (LGA) raised the issue after the council requested a scrutiny report.

The review team suggested written agreements could lead to below standard monitoring of cases, which in turn could place children at risk.

However, the council has said steps have already been taken to rectify the issue and has said the review identified a number of strengths in the service.

The report highlighted that staff had high morale levels and “are proud to work for Wigan and aspire to further improve outcomes for children”.

It reads: “Written agreements with families appeared to be a feature of a number of care and child protection plans.

“Managers need to ensure that these agreements are proportionate to the risk involved and are being monitored and reviewed in practice, and that this is evidenced through case records.”

Also included in the review team’s “issues for consideration” were that “in some cases that sexual abuse was not recognised as a significant, or primary, risk factor”, and there was “inconsistent recording of the voice of the child (reports) in case files”.

The findings have been used to make up a service action plan, the town hall added.

The review also referenced the borough’s increased rates of domestic abuse.

Officers suggested the council could do more to “work with perpetrators...to reduce the risk of this behaviour recurring in the future”.

The report reads: “The team felt that there is scope for Wigan to consider a more strategic approach to addressing across the council the ‘Toxic Trio’ of alcohol and drug abuse and mental health problems which often correlate with issues of domestic abuse.

“The team found good levels of awareness amongst staff of the range of domestic abuse services.”