April 2017

Quarterly news and information.

Key work of the board

The priority areas for 2017 should are:

  • online safety
  • to improve the response to situations of neglect
  • ensure the effective use of early help assessments across all agencies.

Neglect

Our meeting on 10 March 2017 approved a neglect strategy to further our work with our partner agencies in this priority area. This will be available on our website from the beginning of May 2017.

Online Safety

Our meeting on 10 March also approved a new online safety strategy to further our work with our partner agencies in this priority area.

The roll-out of Kayleigh's Love Story to secondary schools across Derbyshire has already received positive feedback from schools that have delivered the sessions. They have also reported that the police presence for support and any disclosures is extremely valuable.

The final phase of the roll out to secondary schools was on the 7 April 2017.

We're also encouraging independent schools and other providers within the child protection field to use the film to increase knowledge and awareness of online dangers.

New criminal offence

Practitioners are asked to note the introduction of a new criminal offence.

Section 67 of the Serious Crime Act (offence of Sexual Communication with a Child) comes into force on 3 April 2017.

This is an offence carrying a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment. The Act inserts a new section 15A into the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The offence criminalises conduct where an adult intentionally communicates (for example, by e-mail, text message, written note or orally) with a child under 16 (whom the adult does not reasonably believe to be aged 16 or over) for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification.

Scenarios likely to be covered by the offence include talking sexually to a child via a chatroom or sending sexually explicit text messages to a child as well as inviting a child to communicate sexually (irrespective of whether the invitation is itself sexual).

The new offence is designed to ensure that it does not criminalise, for example, ordinary social or educational interactions between children and adults or communications between young people themselves.

The term sexual gratification is already used in the context of the offences at sections 11 and 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which prohibit engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and causing a child to watch a sexual act respectively.

It is anticipated that this wording would support a prosecution where either a defendant made a relevant communication in order to obtain immediate sexual gratification or the obtaining of such gratification was part of a longer term plan (grooming) or both.

Ensuring early help is provided promptly and effectively

A report was presented to the board meeting on 10 March 2017 detailing the work which is being undertaken by the Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure that health providers are able to contribute fully and effectively to the provision of early help services. We're keen to ensure that all those professionals working with families across all spectrum's, whether within social care, health, education, the police or probation or other services, are aware of their role in relation to the assessment and provision of early help services.

The graded care profile guidance and assessment tool which can be downloaded from our documents library, will assist in assessing neglect, is currently being relaunched in Derbyshire. This will enable agencies to have a common language and understanding of neglect which will promote effective multi-agency work in this field.

Policies and Procedures

Further updates to the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Procedures have now gone live - view our safeguarding children procedures.

The revisions in March 2017 includes updates to the following chapters, an outline of the revisions is located in the amendments chapter.

  • child protection conferences
  • local contacts.

Remember the procedures are a key tool to help you in your safeguarding practice. Check them out, familiarise yourself and refer to them on a regular basis to make sure that children get the help they need at the right time and are protected from harm.

You can easily register your details via the safeguarding children procedures to be automatically notified of updates.

We would also like to remind practitioners of the escalation policy which should be used in those situations where there may be a difference in professional opinion regarding the safeguarding risk to which a child is exposed.

Multi-agency working to keep children safe is often complex and means that from time to time the judgement of staff from different professional backgrounds may differ, causing potential conflict. This policy sets out clear routes to escalate professional concerns where there are fears that difference of opinion may be getting in the way of keeping a child safe.

For more information, please contact Amanda Ratcliffe, Audit and Policy Officer. email: amanda.ratcliffe@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 536445.

Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI)

Joint Targeted Area Inspections (JTAI) are short, focused inspections carried out on a multi-agency basis. Each JTAI focuses on agencies' front door arrangements and also has a deep dive theme. The current deep dive theme is children living with domestic abuse. The next theme from May 2017 will be children living with neglect.

We've led a multi-agency audit looking at the help and protection provided to children living with domestic abuse. The findings were mixed. There were examples of good and outstanding practice by children's services and other agencies. There were also some key areas of learning, particularly the need to keep children in focus as repeat incidents of domestic abuse can be normalised in families but the impact for children is huge.

Examples of good practice:

  • referrals to Children's Services made in a timely manner
  • evidence of good quality social and multi-agency work in some cases, including information sharing, planning and review
  • adherence to policies and timescales in the majority of cases
  • examples of good assessments, analysis, risk assessment and SMART plans with clear goals
  • examples of persistence and tenacity in gathering information
  • evidence of a 'whole family approach' and improved outcomes for some children and families.

Areas for further development:

  • the need to keep children in focus, taking full account of the impact of living with domestic abuse;
  • improving the quality and timeliness of risk assessments;
  • improving information-sharing, particularly responses to police checks;
  • being clear with families, challenging them about the change that needs to be made and demonstrating professional curiosity;
  • being clear about the terms of licence conditions, restraining orders and planning ahead for perpetrators' release from prison;
  • making sure that we continue to get the basics right including the timeliness and quality of assessments, analysis, chronologies, plans and reviews.

We will formulate an action plan with agencies and this will be shared and implemented through management structures and supervision. A new information-sharing agreement with the police has already been agreed.

JTAI Neglect

We've led a further programme of multi-agency audits on neglect through March and April 2017 in preparation for the next JTAI theme of Neglect from May 2017. A programme of training is being rolled out within the Local Authority for the re-launch of the Graded Care Profile and the use of this tool for practitioners. Multi-agency training for neglect and the graded care profile is also included in our learning & development programme.

The co-operation of all agencies with this programme is greatly appreciated and is enabling us to identify key areas of learning and development.

The series of 6 joint targeted area inspections (JTAI) involving Ofsted, Care Quality Commission (CQC), HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation will begin in May 2017. Uniquely for this JTAI, inspectors will also speak with school leaders and staff to get a wider picture of how neglect is identified and referred.

View the guidance for joint targeted area inspections on children living with neglect.

Derbyshire Safeguarding Board website

Our new website is intended that this will make it easier for those using the site to locate the documents and information they require.

We would of course welcome feedback regarding the website and the content.

Safeguarding Audits in schools

We support and encourages schools to undertake annual safeguarding audits to highlight areas where there is a need for additional knowledge or resources regarding specific safeguarding issues. This is an area of work which the education sub-group invests considerable time and thought to. A recent example of the sharing of this information across the school community was provided by Rosliston C of E Primary School. If schools require any information about the audits they should email: debbie.peacock@derbyshire.gov.uk

Future news items

If you have information or news that you would like to share, please email: robert.harwood@derbyshire.gov.uk

The deadline for the next bulletin is Monday 3 July 2017.