The Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA), an independent watchdog which monitors the safety and quality of the healthcare and social care systems in Ireland, has criticised the Child and Family Agency TUSLA for its failure to notify An Garda Siochana of suspected crimes including neglect, physical and sexual abuse. The HIQA report found that child protection and welfare referrals were not consistently screened within 24 hours, a standard set out in the Child and Family Agency’s own business processes.
The recently published report carried out by HIQA representatives in the Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow area in April of this year found that of the 2,116 referrals made to the service in the six months before the inspection, only 24 notifications had been made to Gardai. In November 2018, TUSLA management identified that staffing deficits compromised the delivery of a safe and effective service in the areas concerned.
Upon review of 77 referrals, none of which were referred to Gardai, HIQA inspectors found that over 10% of these referrals should have been referred to Gardai. In one case, a preliminary inquiry was overdue by four months.
In response to HIQA’s findings, TUSLA has accepted the findings of the report and issued a statement stating that: “TUSLA has made important headway in implementing a range of measures to reform child protection and welfare services.”
Ronan Hynes, Partner in Sellors commented on the report as follows: “There is no substitute for best practice in a sector designed to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The failings identified in the report are worrying and simply cannot be acceptable particularly when the consequences for failing to meet appropriate standards can be so severe in human terms.”