inspection report welcomed
AN inspection of children's
care services in Liverpool has found there are no widespread or
serious failures, but that it "requires improvement."
A 10 strong team from Ofsted spent three weeks in the City in May
and June and randomly inspected around 130 files covering child
protection, adoption and fostering cases.
They have judged that the welfare of looked-after children is
safeguarded and promoted, and that the Council "knows itself
well and is working on a range of improvements." They found
a "committed and energetic senior leadership team"
providing "strong leadership.".
Inspectors saw examples of:- "Good social work practice where
interventions were having an impact and making a difference to
It found that social workers are:-
about their work and morale is generally good."
There is also praise for the early intervention team who:-
"Deliver good support for children and families." and their
work "Often results in positive, sustained change."
They also rate the City as being "very successful" at placing
looked-after children within the City or neighbouring local
authorities and that the majority of children are:- "living in
stable foster placements that meet their needs."
The Children in Care Council; led by looked after young people; is
highlighted in the report for its role in influencing changes to the
service. Inspectors found there is a good variety of support to help
care leavers into work and training.
The inspection did not find any areas for priority and immediate
action, but noted among its findings that the turnover of social
work staff is too high, as are some caseloads.
In addition, the quality of supervision records, assessment and
intervention was found to be variable and child protection plans
were not consistently outcome focused and measurable.
Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for children's services,
said:- "We welcome this thorough and detailed report, which
has been carried out under Ofsted's new rigorous inspection process.
It is a fair assessment of the service that is being provided to
children and young people who we support and care for in Liverpool.
In common with other areas of the country, we have seen a dramatic
increase in the number of referrals and cases we are dealing with.
It is reassuring that, despite the increased challenges, our
children are being kept safe.
I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in keeping young
people safe, whether they are our own frontline social workers,
partner organisations, foster carers, extended families or those
involved in early intervention such as family support workers. They
all do a tremendous job every single day - often in very challenging
and upsetting circumstances - to protect our most vulnerable
children and young people. We recognise that we have some way to go,
but the report is a good basis to move on from. We are already
acting on the recommendations, and our progress will be scrutinized
at select committee on a regular basis to make sure we are
delivering on the improvements needed to make sure the service we
provide is consistently good."
Ofsted have made a total of 22 recommendations to improve the
service and an action plan is being drawn up by the City Council to
FACT FILE:- Children in care numbers
► 4,277 receiving a specialist children's service.
► 1,000 looked after children.
► 698 young people in foster care.
► 431 subject to a child protection plan.
► 48 adoptions over the last 12 months.
woman sentenced after Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool airport
tobacco smuggling attempts
A former Aberystwyth woman has
been sentenced for smuggling more than 27 kilos of tobacco into the
UK via Birmingham International Airport.
Lizbeth Carole Rees Jones, DOB 19/10/56 was living in Broncynfelin,
Llangorwen, Aberystwyth when she was arrested but at the time of
sentencing was living in Bromsgrove. Rees Jones was stopped by UK
Border Force officers at Birmingham Airport on 22 August 2013,
having arrived on a flight from Barcelona. She was arrested and
interviewed by officers from HM Revenue and Customs, and admitted
she intended to sell the tobacco at a profit to help clear her
Checks also revealed that she had been stopped previously at Bristol
Airport, in April 2009, when 14 kilos of tobacco were seized, and at
Liverpool Airport in October 2010 where 15 kilos were seized.
Rees-Jones is currently unemployed but has worked as a singer on
cruise ships. She appeared at Redditch Magistrates Court on 15 July
2014, where she pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise
duty, contrary to section 170 (2) of the Customs and Excise
Management Act 1979. She was sentenced to a 12 month supervised
community order, must be electronically tagged for 6 months between
the hours of 19:00 and 0700, is prohibited from travelling abroad
for 12 months, and must pay a £60 victim surcharge within 7 days of
Colin Booker, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC
said:- "Rees-Jones was stopped not once, but three times
attempting to bring non duty-paid tobacco into the UK. HMRC will not
hesitate to investigate those who try to profit from defrauding
honest taxpayers, and businesses, by providing an unregulated supply
of smuggled tobacco."
Are you 'Fit
to Tow' in the North West this summer?
PEOPLE driving in the North
West are being urged to help cut the number of towing-related
incidents on motorways and major A-roads this summer by checking
their caravan or trailer before setting out.
There were 340 towing-related incidents in the North West recorded
on Highways Agency roads between July and September in 2013 and
2,415 incidents nationally, each potentially causing long delays and
distress to those involved. But many of these incidents could have
been avoided if a few simple checks had been carried out,
particularly where the caravan or trailer had not been used since
the previous year.
Highways Agency Service Delivery Manager Andy Withington says:-
"The vast majority of caravanners and people who tow are safe and
responsible drivers – however we do see a big peak in caravan and
towing incidents during the summer, many of which could be avoided
if drivers had carried out a few simple checks.
If a car is off the road for months it's common sense to check it is
roadworthy before taking it back out and we strongly urge people to
do the same with their trailers and caravans."
Frequent causes of incidents include overloading the caravan or
trailer, a mismatch with the towing vehicle, tyres which have burst
because they have not been checked or replaced where needed and poor
The Highways Agency advises anyone towing a
caravan or trailer to:-
Carry out a final maintenance check before setting off –
particularly if it has been left over the winter pay particular
attention to the condition and pressure of the tyres on both the
towed and towing vehicle.
Check that loads in the towed and
towing vehicle are secure, that the weight is evenly distributed and
is not excessive.
Be aware of how towing affects the
vehicle's performance – particularly braking distances.
► Use extended mirrors when towing
wider trailers, such as caravans, to ensure clear and legal
visibility of the trailer and of other vehicles on the road.
Check they have an appropriate
driving licence for the vehicle and trailer combination.
Know the correct speed limit for
the vehicle and roads.
► Make sure they have proper
breakdown cover in place.
► Check your number plate is
properly attached and correct!
► Check your driving licence!
If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally
entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer, but do check. If you passed
after that date, the licence rules changed. Click
here for more information.
► Drivers towing boats in particular should take care to keep the hubs
of their trailers out of cold water, as this can stop the grease
working and lead to failed bearings.
The Agency works closely with the Caravan Club, the Camping and
Caravanning Club and the British Horse Society to promote safety
messages to people who tow vehicles and trailers.
Martin Spencer and Ian Hewlett from The Caravan Club says:-
"The overwhelming majority of incidents involving caravans are
readily avoidable if drivers check their car and caravan's condition
and loading before setting off and observe the speed limits for
Correctly used, caravans are safe and straightforward to tow, and
provide fantastic, trouble-free holidays. The Club provides a wealth
of advice and information to help caravanners avoid problems, and
works with the Highways Agency and other bodies to promote safe
Ian Hewlett for the the Camping and Caravanning Club added:-
"Ensuring your tow vehicle and trailer are in a roadworthy condition
are important steps for every driver, leave yourself plenty of time
before your trip to check and rectify any problems. If you're going
on a long journey plan regular breaks to help you to remain fit to
Sheila Hardy from the British Horse Society says:- "We all
want to transport ourselves and our animals safely. Breaking down;
or worse; on a busy road is stressful for both drivers and horses,
so we should do all we can to avoid finding ourselves in that
We encourage everyone to follow the Highways Agency's advice and go
bhs.org.uk for more specialist information."
Congestion on the strategic road network is estimated to cost the
economy £3 billion each year, 25% of which is caused by incidents.
In 2013, there were 5,480 incidents involving caravans and trailers
on the Highways Agency's network of motorways and major A-roads.
Over 4,000 of these; almost 75% of such incidents; happened
between April and September. During autumn and winter, 1.4% of all
incidents involve caravans and trailers. During spring and summer;
this increases to 2.6% of all incidents.
The Agency encourages all drivers to plan their journeys and
provides a full range of services to help with this.
It has produced several sources of information about safe towing,
including downloadble magazines and videos, all available on the
Highways Agency traffic officers will be at service stations across
England this weekend sharing advice on safe towing and journey
planning, as well as being on hand to deal with any incidents on the