Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 15:18 UK

Inspectors assess child services

Children's services in Northamptonshire have been subject to a surprise inspection by a government watchdog.

The Ofsted inspectors welcomed the fact that Northamptonshire County Council was clearly focused on the protection of children.

Ofsted said there were no areas where priority action was needed.

But the inspectors said reports to child protection conferences "lack the necessary rigour and consistency" in some areas.

They carried out their unannounced inspection of the council's frontline children's services on 18 and 19 August.

'Positive assessment'

They found that the council takes prompt action to ensure children's safety, and that there were no unallocated cases within the service.

The report also notes that work requiring a child protection response is allocated appropriately to more experienced social workers and the cultural and religious needs of children are taken into account.

It identified a number of areas where improvement can be made, including the need to address inconsistent distribution of social work resources and inconsistent formal recording of management guidance and direction.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "This report represents an accurate appraisal of our child protection services with an overwhelmingly positive assessment of our procedures and staff.

"We're committed to keeping our children and young people safe and protected from abuse and harm.

"We're happy to take on board and address those areas that Ofsted has identified as needing development so we can strengthen and build on the work of our dedicated, professional frontline social care teams."

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