Jackie Baillie, the Council Offices in Church Street and the Coat of Arms.

By Bill Heaney

West Dunbartonshire’s Council’s social work services are a shambles which, like other areas of their responsibilities, such as contract procurement and implementing their management code of conduct, have been panned by agencies responsible for monitoring their performance.

Dumbarton constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, has criticised West Dunbartonshire Council for a damning report into Criminal Justice Social Work Services released by the Care Inspectorate.

Criminal Justice social work services are set out in legislation, making local authorities responsible for delivering a range of services for those involved in the justice system which hands out community payback sentences in the courts.

The report looks at how well these community payback orders are implemented and managed as well as how effectively services are achieving positive outcomes.

And the results are awful.

The report highlighted a number of failings in West Dunbartonshire, with the local authority being graded as weak in four of the five areas of assessment. The failings include:

  • West Dunbartonshire does not comply with national outcomes and standards.
  • Just 20% of first inductions to unpaid work and supervision case management meetings were undertaken within statutory timescales – down 10% from last year.
  • The number of unpaid work requirements starting within seven days fell from 70% in 2013/14 to just 7% in 2017/18.
  • West Dunbartonshire Council has the highest number of unpaid work requirements which took more than two months to begin.
  • In over half of individual records, there was no evidence of a reduction in the frequency or seriousness of offending because of support received.
  • Risks assessments were not carried out and risks were not communicated between staff.
  • Record keeping is poor and home visits or statutory reviews are not carried out.

The report also found that justice services in West Dunbartonshire are over reliant on unpaid work and have no real ambition for support services to help with rehabilitation. Services which were previously available had disappeared and had not been replaced.

Staff also spoke of an excessive volume of work which prevented them from completing assessments, preparing plans or undertaking home visits.

Jackie Baillie said: “It is worrying that for the second time in as many weeks, we have a Care Inspectorate report that shows failings in key services at West Dunbartonshire Council.

“The people of West Dunbartonshire are being let down by a Council that appears to be unable to manage services. Whilst recognising that budgets are declining, this report still makes for difficult reading.

“With budgets set to be slashed again by this SNP Government and an anticipated increase in demand for these services, it is clear that the council must get an improvement plan in place that properly resources the service and supports staff.”

The SNP Council administration refuses to comment to The Democrat about any of this and continues to ban us from asking questions.

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