Watchdog “very concerned” at process when vulnerable kids go missing from residential school

The way highly-vulnerable children on the run from a Paisley residential school are dealt with has left a “very concerned” watchdog.

Youngsters are regularly posted missing without trace from Kibble.

But in a visit without warning, the Care Inspectorate uncovered flaws in how the school handled kids who have vanished from the Goudie Street complex.

And there was also criticism in the way the charity reports child protection issues to the police – and the role of the campus cop in the alerts.

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The Inspectorate made its report public on January 31 and gave the key category of how well Kibble supported the children only an “adequate” rating.

Inspectors said some strengths were found but “these just outweighed weaknesses”.

The report said: “Weaknesses identified relate to potential concerns about young people being safe and protected from abuse and harm.

“Strengths may have a positive impact but the likelihood of achieving positive experiences and outcomes for people is significantly reduced because key areas of performance need to improve.”

Kibble has been supporting at risk children for 160 years and the Paisley center is home to up to 63 children aged 11 to 18.

Twenty four children were spoken to and six others provided written answers.

The report said: “The positive feedback we received related to young people feeling supported to attend education and reduce risk taking behaviours.

“Most told us they felt cared for and valued and were having their dignity respected.

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“The majority of young people told us they regularly received hugs from staff.

“Less positive feedback related to young people feeling that in some houses there had been high staff turnover which had led to some inconsistency of relationships for them.”

On the issue of kids going missing, one child said it was “easier to just run away for a while to get some peace and quiet and not hit out at this new person”.

The report said: “We were very concerned to see that not all young people had a completed missing person profile despite some of these young people being regularly absent from the service, sometimes for days.

“Given the risks presented by some young people living in the service, we were of the view that these records require to improve in order to promote their safety and wellbeing.

“In addition, there is a need for the service to develop a missing person policy… this will form an area for improvement.

“Of significant concern to us we found that there were inconsistencies in the following of child protection processes.

“While the service did have a policy in place, we found examples of delays referring child protection matters to the police, some between two and ten days, and a lack of clarity regarding the role of the campus police officer in progressing or investigating such incidents. .

“Police Scotland raised this concern with us.”

On the positive side the inspectors found leadership “good”.

The staff team was also rated as “good” and it was “admirable they continued to work tirelessly” during the pandemic.

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Care and support planning was rated as “very” good as was the setting, which includes a gym, sports pitches and a swimming pool.

Kibble's Sinclair Soutar says the entire staff are committed to looking after young people
Kibble’s Sinclair Soutar says the entire staff are committed to looking after young people

Kibble’s chief operating officer Sinclair Soutar said: “Considering that the inspection was carried out in an extraordinarily difficult period during covid lockdowns, we are very pleased with the overall content of the report, with 7 out of 8 areas being judged “good” or “ very good”.

“This reflects the sector-leading quality of care at Kibble and the commitment of our entire staff in looking after young people, many of whom are dealing with significant challenges in their lives.

“Where there are areas for improvement, we will, of course, address those. However, we should point out that the National Missing Person Protocol changed recently and that we have missing person profiles in place for all young people who are covered by the new protocol.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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