The BBC has another report from Coventry, this time on the effects on demand for child protection services following the Daniel Pelka tragedy.
The report says that the number of referrals involving suspected child abuse in Coventry has increased by 40% since 2011. The number of calls per day reporting suspected abuse is said to have risen from an average of 42 calls per day in 2011 to an average of 60 per day in 2013.
Council officials are reported as saying that it is difficult to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of permanent trained social workers to meet the increased demand and that there is heavy reliance on agency workers staff.
The leader of the council is reported as saying that Coventry’s social workers have a high rate of burn-out. Apparently there has been a large increase since 2010 in the numbers off work because of stress.
The leader of the council is quoted as describing the council’s social workers as ‘heroes’ saying that she does not know why they do the job.
There often seems to be a downward spiral following a child protection tragedy. Members of the public and professionals have heightened awareness of the risks of child abuse and neglect. They make more referrals, which increases pressure on the local authority. Members of staff come under increased pressure, resulting in sickness absence and increased vacancy rates. That results in poorer quality services and increases the chances that something will go seriously wrong. Children are put at greater risk.