Herts County Council 'fully cooperating' as police investigation focuses on Education Health and Care Plans process

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Police confirm investigation is in its infancy

HERTFORDSHIRE Police has been asked to investigate whether officials at the county council are guilty of misconduct in public office, with regard to the way it deals with requests for assessment for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

Herts County Council says it is aware of investigation, which police say is in its infancy, and is “fully cooperating”.

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A parent has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he has alleged that the number of requests for assessment for EHCPs that are NOT accepted by the county council is ‘not by accident’.

Hertfordshire County CouncilHertfordshire County Council
Hertfordshire County Council

And he has suggested that this is a deliberate attempt in order to effectively manage demand.

The parent – who has asked the police to investigate – says that the council’s statutory duty for EHC provision should be needs-led and not resources-led.

The parent also claims it is their statutory duty to come up with a plan within 20 weeks.

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But he has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he believes the council is, in effect, deliberately stopping parents from getting an assessment – and deliberately delaying the plans.

He claims he has asked the police to investigate whether this is a case of misconduct in public office.

In response to an enquiry by the Local Democracy Reporting Service into an investigation of allegations made against the county council, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “We can confirm that Hertfordshire Constabulary has received a report of alleged misconduct in a public office.

“Enquiries are underway and the investigation is in its early stages.”

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Meanwhile a spokesperson for the county council has said the council is “fully co-operating” with the police investigation.

“Hertfordshire County Council is aware of the police investigation with which it is fully cooperating,” said the spokesperson.

“However, as with any ongoing police investigation, it would not be appropriate for us to comment.

“We recognise we need to improve SEND services and have a comprehensive plan in place which is independently monitored, including an additional ongoing £7million investment into statutory SEND services to recruit and train more staff, and are creating 1,000 new SEND school places between 2018 and 2026.

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“We are committed to working in partnership with young people, parents, carers, the NHS and schools to ensure that all children with SEND and EHCPs in Hertfordshire receive the support they need and deserve amid unprecedented demand for these services.”