A Herefordshire MP has been given assurances by the county council’s top official this week that contentious cases of children being taken into care in the county are being looked into.

North Herefordshire MP Sir Bill Wiggin pressed Herefordshire Council chief executive Paul Walker on the matter following an earlier meeting the MP had with members of A Common Bond, a support group for parents in the county.

“In 21 years in politics, it’s the most distressing meeting I have had – we had the tissues going round,” Sir Bill said.

“I can’t imagine anything worse than having your children forcibly taken from you.”

He added: “Herefordshire has about twice the rate of children in care than it probably should. But Paul Walker wants to get this back on track.

“It’s easy to damn the social workers, but no one else is willing to step in when there is a call for help.”

Mr Walker said: “I assured Sir Bill that we would review our actions in line with our Care Concern process, using an external audit team to review these cases.

“Our social workers continue to do their best, often in very difficult circumstances, to support families and protect vulnerable children in our community.

“I would invite anyone with concerns about the way they have been treated by Herefordshire Children’s Services to contact me through our careconcerns webpage or email careconcerns@herefordshire.gov.uk .”


A full council meeting last Friday (July 29) heard that Mr Walker had undergone an annual performance review, from which a list of seven objectives for the current year had been set – at the top of which is “transformation of children’s services”.

Earlier it was revealed at the council’s children and young people scrutiny committee that more than one in every hundred children in the county is now in care – a rise on last year.

In response to a public question, the committee said Herefordshire’s “looked-after rate” was 109 per 10,000 children as of the middle of last month, which “equates to 391 children and young people”.

This is an increase of about a quarter from March last year, when the figure stood at 87 per 10,000, compared with the average for England at that time of 67.

The rate at which children went into care in the county was also abnormally high compared with previous years, at 44 per 10,000 for the year to March 2022 according to provisional figures, after falling over the previous four years.

The committee said this was “in part due to the rise in legacy unmet need that became apparent”, and that this rate had since fallen back.

“The picture is a complex one that cannot be explained in numbers alone,” the committee’s response added.