Surrey council failed to vet staff who were working with children

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One of Britain's largest local authorities has been warned by inspectors that its lax procedures for vetting staff working with children are "unacceptable and dangerous", putting them at risk.

Surrey County Council has been criticised by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, for giving inspectors "false" information about the effectiveness of its vetting procedures. "The poor attention to ensuring that staff are safe to work with children and young people is both unacceptable and dangerous," says Ofsted's report. It adds: "Although the council state in their self-assessment that all staff are robustly CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] checked, this information is false."

The danger to children at risk is exacerbated by a tendency for staff to place too much reliance on the word of parents, and, it adds, in "making the decision that no action is required by children's social care services" staff were too quick to close cases. "There are inadequate arrangements to ensure safe staffing across a range of agencies," it says. The authority is also criticised for a rise in teenage pregnancy rates.

A spokesman for Surrey County Council said: "Action has been taken to ensure all children are effectively safeguarded." All children in need cases had been reviewed. He added: "All staff within children's services who are required to have a valid CRB check either have one in place or are in the process of getting one."