Louise Casey, head of the government’s troubled families programme, has urged senior police officers to make sure their colleagues “ask the local authority what the hell is going on” with the scheme.
Ms Casey made the appeal during a speech at the annual conference of the Police Superintendents’ Association last week.
She said public services had let children down in some cases because of a “lack of sanction, lack of challenge and lack of authority.”
She said: “The police are the one group of professionals for whom an assertive challenge is absolutely and completely second nature, something that others could learn from … get [your staff] to go to the [troubled families] meetings, get them to ask the local authority what the hell is going on, get them to get involved.”
Ms Casey said some police officers went “with a heavy heart” to local partnership meetings with councils. “Some of them, and some of you, no doubt think they are bureaucratic, a talking shop, a waste of time - and sometimes, let’s face it, you might be right…but it’s often the police who in these multi agency meetings can cut through the bureaucracy and get directly to the nub of the issue.”
She said she had recently witnessed a meeting at which a police officer “took on the children’s social services and [asked] what they were actually doing to intervene” with a family.
Meanwhile, Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, has rejected Ms Casey’s call for councils to plan for service closures under the troubled families scheme, reported by LGC last week.
In a letter to LGC, Ms Jones said: “We are very supportive of Louise Casey’s characteristically robust and energetic leadership of the programme. However, it is early days and there will need to be substantial evaluation of progress to give local authorities the reassurance that demand will reduce to the point where specialist services can be reduced.
“There are also families who do not qualify for the programme, as they do not meet the criteria, who will continue to require specialist support services. Making assumptions about reduced need without substantial evidence risks leaving a gap in the safety net for those who need it.”
Meanwhile, one director of children’s services, who asked not to be named, told LGC his council was resisting the temptation to “chase the outcomes linked to the payments by results” under the troubled families scheme. He warned: “There is a huge temptation to just deal with those issues [for which councils receive results-based payments], but not to address the underlying problems. We are going to have to find a way to chase the troubled families money without stopping the preventative work.”
A video of Ms Casey’s speech is below. Watch from 20 minutes and 30 seconds in, for the comments quoted above.