IROs choose to remain based within councils

By Neil Puffett

| 30 June 2015

Independent reviewing officers (IROs) have voted to remain based within local authorities.

IROs are responsible for making sure that local authority decisions affecting looked-after children are in their best interests. Picture: Phil Adams

A survey of members by the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (Nairo), found that 72 per cent felt IRO services were “best placed within local authority management”. 

The survey was conducted in response to ongoing concerns that IROs, who are responsible for championing the voice of children in care and making sure that local authority decisions on looked-after children are in their best interests, can struggle to exercise their independence when they are based within a local authority.

Under current arrangements, often the same line manager will oversee both the IRO and the social work team whose care planning is being scrutinised.

The situation could potentially have been changed through the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 – which allows the government to take IROs out of council management.

But Nairo has said it will not now lobby government to alter the system.

Maggie Duggins, chair of Nairo, who had previously been in favour of taking IROs out of council management, said: “We believe IRO services are best placed within local authorities, and we will not campaign for the removal of IRO services from local authorities.

“However, we think that urgent and robust measures should be taken to enhance the genuine independence of IROs within local authorities.

“We will also encourage and support the development and piloting of different models for provision of IRO services within local authorities which may enhance their independence and effectiveness.”

The survey also found that 91 per cent of IROs thought there needed to be measures put in place to strengthen their independence within councils.

Duggins said Nairo will continue to press for action on a number of other issues, including IRO workloads, the availability of independent legal advice for IROs, and better training and support for IROs within local authorities.

 

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