Agenda item

The Medway Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) Update Report

The purpose of the report is to update the Health and Wellbeing Board on the work of the Medway Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) during 2018-19 and to provide Members with an update on the MSCB Business Plan 2017-20.


The report has been written in accordance with the joint protocol between strategic partnerships in Medway and it follows the presentation of the MSCB Annual Report 2017-18 in November 2018. The MSCB Annual Report 2018-19 will follow later in the year.




The Board welcomed the Medway Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) Independent Chair who presented the Board with a report which set out details of the work of the MSCB during 2018-19, including an update on the MSCB Business Plan 2017-20 and an update on recent Serious Case Reviews (SCRs), which were either ongoing or completed.


The Board was advised that the Children and Social Work Act 2017 had introduced a new duty on three agencies, namely the Local Authority, the Chief Officer of Police and the Clinical Commissioning Group (referred to as Safeguarding Partners), to make arrangements for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area. The new arrangements would streamline the current arrangements and would be published by 29 June 2019. Transition to the new arrangements would take place by 29 September 2019.


Members raised a number of points and questions, including:


Serious Case Review (SCR), historic case – Clarification was sought with regards to the circumstances of the SCR detailed in paragraph 3.3 of the report. In response, the MSCB Independent Chair confirmed that this was a historical case in which the primary abuse that the individual had suffered occurred in the early years of childhood and came to light many years later upon review of the individual’s case notes. The outcome of the review had not yet been published but would be circulated to the Board on publication.


SCR, Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) - In response to questions concerning learning for the Health and Wellbeing Board following the SCR of Medway STC, Members were advised that the Board could focus on two areas, these were the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) Service and implementation of the action plan.


It was explained that where there were a large number of children and young people in custody i.e. within Medway STC and also Cookham Wood, there was a need for the LADO Service to focus primarily on these children and young people. The SCR of Medway STC concluded that for a period in 2015 into the first month of 2016, the Service had not served the children for whom it had responsibility very well, as detailed within the published report. The Council had acknowledged this weakness and, at the time, commissioned its own review of the Service and developed an action plan for implementation. The most recent Ofsted focussed visit concluded that the Council had improved this Service. The Council, as one of the Safeguarding Partners, was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the action plan. It was noted that the Safeguarding Partners had proposed the creation of a specific body to oversee safeguarding in the two establishments; Medway STC and Cookham Wood.


MSCB Business Plan 2017-20 - In response to a concern expressed in relation the number of amber actions within the MSCB Business Plan 2017-20, the Board wad advised that the Business Plan was a three year plan and the expectation was that some actions would be amber at this stage. It was explained that where there was a clear plan to implement an action but where  implementation had not yet happened, it would not be graded anything other than amber. A Member suggested that this be explained within the report.


Action number 1.1.1 within the MSCB Business Plan 2017-20 - In response to a question regarding engagement with schools, the Board was advised that this had been challenging, owing to the nature of recent education reforms. The two umbrella bodies representing primary and secondary schools had facilitated engagement, however there had been particular difficulty in accessing independent schools. The new arrangements for safeguarding partnerships placed a requirement on them to identify how they would work with relevant agencies which included all schools. 


Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 - With respect to paragraph 3.12 of the report, bullet point number one, a member expressed the view that it should read ‘the three safeguarding partners must’ rather than ‘should’. In response, the Board was advised that this was the language utilised by the Department for Education (DfE).


Transition to the new arrangements - In response to a query concerning the time gap between publishing the new arrangements and the deadline to transition to them, the Board was advised that the dates had been prescribed by the DfE and an assurance was given that the MSCB would continue to exist until the transition to the new arrangements was complete. The new arrangements had been designed to ensure continuity. It was added that on 9 April 2019, the Cabinet approved the proposed safeguarding partnership arrangements and it was intended that the new arrangements would be published ahead of the June deadline.


Multi agency audit, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) - In response to concerns expressed regarding some of the key themes identified within the CSE audit, it was explained that the bullet points set out at paragraph 3.15 of the report were a summary of the themes that had emerged from a review of six randomly chosen cases. These cases demonstrated that, in some cases, professionals may respond incorrectly to children who might be victims of CSE by misunderstanding or misinterpreting the characteristics and behaviours displayed by the individual(s). An example of the Rotherham case, was used to illustrate this to the Board. The relatively small sample had revealed that children were not always being protected as well as they should be and that there were continuing education, supervision and recruitment needs that had to be addressed. It was noted that the MSCB had particular responsibly for training and therefore the audit facilitated an improved understanding of CSE. Furthermore, individual employers who were part of the MSCB had a responsibility to improve practice.




The Health and Wellbeing Board thanked the MSCB Independent Chair for his informative update and his contribution to the Board during his time as Independent Chair.


The Health and Wellbeing Board noted the contents of the update report and requested that the final report of the Serious Case Review of the historic case be circulated to Board Members. 

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