The purpose of this report is to present the Medway Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) Annual Report 2018-19 to the Health and Wellbeing Board. The MSCB Independent Chair publishes an annual report describing how agencies in Medway have worked together through the year and how effective the arrangements are in Medway to keep children and young people safe from harm, abuse or neglect.
The report summarises the work undertaken in 2018-19 and the replacement of the MSCB with the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) which transitioned from September 2019.
This report was considered by the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9 January 2020 and its comments are set out at section 3 of the report.
This report provided details of the Medway Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) Annual Report 2018-19 which was presented to the Board in accordance with the Joint Working Protocol. This was the last annual report from the MSCB as it was replaced by the Medway Safeguarding Partnership (MSCP) on 2 September 2019. Annual reports from the MSCP would be presented to the Board in the future.
The Board’s attention was drawn to key sections of the Annual Report, in particular Section 4: Serious Case Reviews (SCR)/Learning Lessons Reviews and Multi Agency Audits. Reference was made to the SCR of the Secure Training Centre (STC). It was noted that the STC would formally close in March 2020. However, earlier action was taken by the Director of People – Children and Adults Services (‘Director of People’) and all young people within the facility had already been relocated. It was confirmed that a new secure school would be built on the site of the STC. It was recognised that the Council must work closely with the provider, a Multi Academy Trust, at the design stage to ensure that the physical environment, systems and procedures were fit for purpose.
In response to a request that the provision of health services were specifically considered within the new secure school, the Director of People recognised this concern and he confirmed that he had discussed it with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and would take it forward. Given processes had changed overtime, a criminal justice and armed forces update was requested.
With reference to the MSCB budget set out at section 5 of the Annual Report, assurance was sought that the MSCP was sufficiently resourced. In response, the Director of People explained that an increase in SCRs had contributed to budget pressures reflected in the report. The team had worked actively to ensure that future resourcing was sustainable.
In relation to this and a concern expressed about the cost burden falling to the Local Authority when children and young people were placed in Medway, the Director of People explained his duties as the host Director of Children’s Services and he confirmed that discussions were ongoing with HMPPS to provide additional funding. In response to a suggestion that the matter be raised with Medway’s MPs, the Director of People undertook to continue to provide regular briefings to them so that they could make any appropriate representations.
In response to questions in relation to auditing, the processes for Multi Agency Audits and Section 11 self-audits were outlined. It was explained that a new internal audit tool had been developed by the Council following feedback from the recent Ofsted Inspection of Medway’s Children’s Services.
Questions were raised about the concerns expressed by the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee set out at paragraphs 3.2.5 and 3.2.9 of the report. In relation to the MSCB’s awareness of the performance of children’s social care it was explained that challenge and support had been strengthened through bilateral meetings with health and police colleagues. In relation to attendance of secondary schools at Board meetings, it was explained that under the new MSCP arrangements, the MSCP were required to identify relevant agencies of which included schools. School engagement was challenged.
A concern was expressed about the number of children missing education, in response, it was explained that this was being tackled in a targeted way, particularly in relation to schools off-rolling. The Director of People undertook to present the Board with a specific report on the issue.
The Health and Wellbeing Board:
a) noted the comments of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee set out at section 3 of the report.
b) commented as set out in the minute on the annual report; and
c) agreed to add the following items to the Board’s work programme (dates to be determined):
· update on criminal justice and armed forces in Medway;
· a report on engaging schools with respect to children missing education.