Bridgend children's services still 'a serious concern' following Logan Mwangi's murder

Five-year-old Logan Mwangi was taken off the Child Protection Register a month before his death Credit: Family photo

Care inspectors have warned they still have "serious concerns" about Bridgend County Borough's children's services - the area where Logan Mwangi was murdered by his family.

A review was carried out in May 2022, the first annual inspection since the five-year-old's death - who was under the care of the local authority until a month before his murder.

He was killed by his mother Angharad Williamson, his step-father John Cole and teenager Craig Mulligan who lived with him.

Following Logan’s death, a child practice review was launched and is being led by the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Safeguarding Board, which includes local councils, police, probation service and NHS.

It is expected to be published later this year.

This report published today does not go into detail of individual cases such as Logan's but does discuss whether concerns raised before his death have been addressed.  

Care Inspectorate Wales acknowledged there had been improvements at Bridgend County Borough Council in the past twelve months but there was a need for “further urgent action” to improve services for children and families.

In the previous review in 2021 inspectors warned about the local authority's ability to meet its statutory responsibilities to promote and protect the well-being of vulnerable children and families.

It found it was struggling to cope with the pressures of the pandemic, with high levels of demand and increased complexity of people’s needs.

Recruitment was also highlighted with a shortage of experienced social workers either leaving the job or off sick, leading to a reliance on less qualified staff and agency workers.

It referred to managers not being fully aware of the extent of the problems and says the improvement response needs to speed up to make sure the service is consistently able to protect children at risk.

Logan Mwangi

The report said more effort is needed to make sure children's views and voices are being listened to, in order to get an accurate reflection of their lived experience. It said there was an over reliance on parents views.

It also found not enough people felt they were being listened to and treated with dignity. Of 93 responses to a survey of people receiving help, 33% felt they were ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ treated with dignity and respect. 47% felt they were ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ listened to.

Opportunities to prevent cases escalating were noted as still being a challenge due to the high number of new referrals alongside staffing issues.

In the 2021 review it warned families were not always receiving the right services to prevent an escalation of needs. The latest review says too many families are waiting too long for the right support which leads to a higher risks for the children involved.

It said indications of risk were not properly considered resulting in missed opportunities including case workers not being robust enough in their assessments and interventions with families.

Foster care was highlighted as an area of difficulty with fewer in-house foster carers available to look after children.

It said there were examples of records in relation to episodes of children going missing and children at risk of exploitation lacking sufficient detail to make sure risks were properly mitigated. It went on to say it was not always clear who the information had been shared with.

The report also referred to shortfalls in management oversight for new staff meaning they could not be assured newly qualified social workers are receiving appropriate supervision.

Councillor Jane Gebbie, Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help at Bridgend Council has welcomed the report, saying a great deal of work has already taken place to improve the overall quality of services for children and their families.

Craig Mulligan, John Cole and Angharad Williams have been jailed for Logan Mwangi's murder.

She said: “We have commissioned a programme of independent quality assurance to assess the strengths and areas for development in children’s services, are actively recruiting new employees, and are carefully redeploying existing staff to provide additional support in areas experiencing the most pressure.

“Management oversight and decision-making has been strengthened by increased frequency of supervision in priority areas and the better collection and scrutiny of performance information data, and greater planning to reconfigure and improve the resilience and sustainability of the service in the longer term is also being taken forward."

Gillian Baranski, Chief Inspector at Care Inspectorate Wales said: “I am pleased to acknowledge there has been some improvement since our assurance check in April 2021. 

"However, further urgent action must be taken to secure and sustain improvement in the care and support for children and families in Bridgend.

"This work must be prioritised to ensure the best possible outcomes for children. We will continue to liaise with the local authority’s senior leaders and are closely monitoring the local authority’s performance.”

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said the report lacked any comparison with the performance of other local authorities.

“The report lacks context and does not tell me, as a Senedd member, how Bridgend are doing in comparison to Wales as a whole and how they could be supported with good practice from other local authorities,” she said.

“It is my opinion that the inspection regime in Wales needs overhauling to focus on a pan-Wales performance picture, assessing how local authorities measure up to this and then how they can be helped to improve.

“Finally, the Welsh Government must outline what it is doing to address the staffing crisis in children’s services, which is mentioned consistently throughout this report.

The Welsh Government said the Care Inspectorate Wales report on Bridgend’s Children’s Services highlights a number of areas of concern,

"The Minister has sought assurances that work to address the issues raised in the report will be undertaken as a matter of urgency. We will work with Bridgend and Care Inspectorate Wales to support them to make the improvements required and address the issues highlighted.”

“We have set out an ambitious programme for reform to transform children’s services in Wales and have been clear that now is the time for action and not further review. This action is based on a range of independent research, reviews and evaluation which set out the changes and the challenges which must be addressed.”

The Welsh Conservatives shadow social service minister Gareth Davies repeated calls for an overall review in children's services across Wales,

“Logan’s murder was a tragedy and policymakers must focus on preventing anything like this horrific killing happen again and, given Wales has the worst rate of looked-after children in the UK, then a review is both sensible and essential.

“So, for the Labour Government to insist nothing needs to be done when all other British nations are conducting a review is a dereliction of duty with the potential to put lives at risk.

“There are clearly problems still present in Bridgend – something that really should have been sorted out by now – but we need to know where else in Wales needs significant improvement too.

“Mark Drakeford can still change his mind by implementing the review we are calling for.”