A WATCHDOG has found serious failings with the way Clackmannanshire Council dealt with child welfare concerns.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) received a complaint from a woman after she contacted the local authority with concerns for the wellbeing of her child – identified as Child A.

She raised issues with the quality of the council's initial assessment of her complaint, the actions it took in response to the information provided by her child, and the follow up care it provided.

After carrying out an investigation, the SPSO identified multiple issues with the way the local authority dealt with Mrs C's allegations.

In a written judgement, the ombudsman said: "We found that the council's case records were of a poor standard and as a result, there was a lack of evidence of the actions taken and the rationale for the decisions made.

"We also identified that communication with Mrs C and her family was unreasonable.

"We concluded that the council failed to adhere to the child protection procedures and relevant guidance by failing to ensure that there were two social workers present when Child A was interviewed; to consider the gender appropriateness of the interviewing social worker; to undertake a welfare home visit to Mrs C and Child A; and to consult with health or education prior to undertaking the investigation."

The ruling went on to say the SPSO upheld Mrs C's complaints, and made several recommendations as to how Clacks Council could improve its service.

It also noted that the local authority had already acknowledged there were failings in the way it handled the child protection investigation.

It added that a review has since been carried out by the council, and all its social work staff were subsequently provided with child protection training.

A spokesperson for Clackmannanshire Council said: "We have acknowledged that our handling of these issues did not meet our standards, and we brought in an external reviewer to report on this.  

"We have put in place changes to training and procedures to ensure that these lessons are learnt and have reported details of these to the Ombudsman."

To read the SPSO's full judgement, visit tinyurl.com/y2h833xk