Pembrokeshire Council responds to Welsh Government after 'final warning'

The leader of Pembrokeshire County Council has written to ministers after the Welsh Government gave it an ultimatum over concerns at how it safeguards children.

In the letter, Councillor Jamie Adams promised a "wide-ranging" investigation into allegations that disruptive children had been locked in padded rooms at the Pupil Referral Unit.

He said that there had been "a marked improvement" in improving the level of scrutiny within the council, and encouraging council officers and front line staff to air their concerns.

  • The way in which time-out rooms were used in Pembroke Dock Community School is being investigated by social services and the police.
  • A disciplinary investigation concerning the use of the former time-out room in the Pupil Referral Unit is also in progress
  • Investigation "will be wide ranging... if disciplinary action is warranted, in relation to staff still employed by the Authority, it will be taken without exception".
  • Says CRB and vetting checks have been improved, and that the council now has "one of the most stringent approaches to checking and vetting in Wales"
  • Whistleblowing policy has been "revised", and there is a "marked improvement in the Council's approach to encouraging challenge by Members".
  • A Chief Officer's Safeguarding Panel has been set up, "to ensure there is compelte managerial oversight of all safeguarding issues".
  • A new Director of Social Services has been appointed
  • Cites problem of "differences of understanding" between council officers and the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board (PMB). James says he "not aware of any request made by the PMB with which officers have failed to comply".
  • Acknowledges that the Authority "still requires" the assistance of the PMB, "because of the value of the project work in which members of the Board are involved".

Already I have observed a change in the Authority's culture, the strengthening of our safeguarding policies and procedures and a change in the approach of our senior officers.

I would like to place on record my admiration for our front-line staff who deliver, on a daily basis, critical services for children and young people in Pembrokeshire. The environment in which they work in challenging, and yet they consistently achieve good outcomes for the children who need our support.

– COUNCILLOR JAMIE ADAMS, LEADER OF PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

The Welsh Government has given a brief response to the letter.

Ministers have raised serious concerns about the situation in Pembrokeshire. We have now received their response to our letter which we are considering. The prime and overarching concern of the Welsh Government throughout all of this remains the safeguarding of children in Pembrokeshire. This is absolutely paramount._

– Welsh Government spokesperson