Inspectors praise strong partnership helping to keep children safe
Main article content
A report praising the multi-agency response to safeguarding children in Gloucestershire has been published today (3 August).
Inspectors from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conducted a Joint Targeted Area Inspection of the county council, police and NHS from 12 to 16 June 2023. It considered the county’s response to the identification of initial need and risk (often referred to as the ‘front door’).
Their report praises the strength of Gloucestershire’s strategic partnership between the county council, NHS and police, which is testament to the collective commitment of all partners to keeping children and young people in the county safe. It notes this mature relationship is supported by effective governance in the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (GSCP).
Inspectors found that most children living in Gloucestershire who are identified to be in need of help and protection receive a swift and appropriate multi-agency response. They highlighted a daily multi-agency vulnerability meeting held in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), or ‘front door,’ as a key strength. It promotes effective partnership working where information on the current impact of risks to children is shared and next steps are identified and considered, including who is best to work with children and their families.
The report found that when children’s needs warrant further children’s social care intervention, assessments are detailed and thorough with children seen promptly, including the same day if required. Children are visited at home and when appropriate, in school. Inspectors said children’s plans lead to children receiving the right help and intervention.
Senior leaders were found to have appropriate oversight and knowledge of the effectiveness of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and inspectors noted their commitment to a continuous learning environment, which they said results in proactive intervention to improve services for children.
The strong partnership between schools and the police was praised in the report. Gloucestershire Constabulary provide training and attend assemblies to talk to children about keeping safe in areas such as online safety and knife crime. Inspectors found this is valued highly by schools who say it is effective in de-escalating issues that may otherwise increase risks to children.
The report also highlights a multi-agency child exploitation meeting which allows partners to effectively share intelligence and information about local hot spots, perpetrators, and persons of concern enabling professionals to identify emerging themes and develop targeted disruption activity. Dedicated teams in the police and the youth support service focus on missing children and the inspection found professionals know these children well.
Steps are being taken to make progress in the areas that inspectors found needed improvement including the efficiency of partner recording systems, the consistent use of police vulnerability screening tools and making sure children’s voices are used to inform decisions across all partner agencies.
Cllr Stephen Davies, cabinet member for children’s social care and early years at Gloucestershire County Council said: “I am pleased that inspectors have recognised the strength of our partnership and our swift response to keeping children safe.
“Working together with partners in the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership and the Wellbeing Coalition, we will do everything we can to continually improve the way we support children and young people and address the areas that the report has highlighted.”
Ann James, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Gloucestershire County Council said: “I am pleased with the outcome of this inspection for the partnership and our workforce but primarily for children and families in Gloucestershire.
“It validates the improvement work we have implemented following the last full Ofsted inspection in 2022 and provides a great basis from which we can continue to drive improvement for children, families and our communities.”
Dr Marion Andrews-Evans, ICB Executive Chief Nurse and Chair of the county children’s safeguarding partnership executive, said: “The Joint Targeted Area Inspection confirms the hard work being carried out to keep children living in Gloucestershire safe and well. The report recognises that our strategic partnership is strong and we know that working together alongside partners from the County Council and the police is already making a huge difference.
“We know there is always more work to do and will continue to work with our partners at Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary to ensure children growing up in our county are kept safe and protected from harm.”
Chief Constable Rod Hansen, Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “This report is welcome affirmation that close partnership working is key to safeguarding children in our county.
“We have strong operational and strategic connections with our counterparts in the County Council and health services and share a determination to not only meet the standards expected in order to keep children safe but to exceed them where at all possible.
“We embrace the identified areas where we can improve, are working on them already and will continue to work together to address them.
“On behalf of the Police and Crime Commissioner and I, thank you to so many colleagues, specialists and support agencies who work so hard and so skilfully in an often traumatic area of our work – they deserve suitable recognition and thanks.”