Agenda item

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Adults' Services

This report details the area covered by the Portfolio Holder for Adults’ Services that falls within the remit of this Committee and updates the Committee on activity in relation to the Children’s Independent Reviewing Office (IRO) for the period April 2020 until March 2021. This team is part of the wider Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Service. This report provides quantitative and qualitative evidence relating to the IRO team in Medway as required by statutory guidance.




Councillor David Brake, Portfolio Holder for Adults Services, with responsibility for the Children’s Independent Safeguarding and Review Service was in attendance and took questions from the Committee.


Members raised several questions and comments which included:


Members praised the positive aspects of the service as reported including the improvements made to timeliness of reviews, gathering of information feedback from young people and dedication of staff to promote the best outcomes for the young people of Medway.


  • Workforce – Concerns were raised on the significant staffing issues that had been experienced by the service in 2020/2021. The Portfolio Holder stated that staffing levels had significantly improved, with extensive work completed on recruitment and retention of staff.


In response to a question on what percentage of staff were locum, it was made clear that there were currently no locum or agency staff in the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) service which was fully staffed with a permanent workforce. There had been use of agency staff previously to backfill where necessary but there had since been emphasis on conversion to permanent contracts to ensure stability in the service. Significant work had been undertaken to ensure that young people were assigned to an IRO that would continue with them throughout their journey.


  • Virtual Meetings- One of the issues identified by IRO’s during the height of the pandemic was the inability to meet in person with young people, and it was asked how the voice of children, which had been identified as a challenge, was captured. The Portfolio Holder acknowledged the difficulties experienced by staff, children and families not being able to meet face to face but praised how well all had adapted to the new ways of working. Whilst the interaction in virtual meetings was not of the same quality as in person meetings, this approach was one of the best tools at disposal in safeguarding all against contracting Covid 19. All cases were individually assessed to determine if a virtual meeting was appropriate and where it had been identified that a face-to-face meeting was the best course of action, this took place in a safe and secure Covid compliant way.


Members were reminded that the duties discharged under the Coronavirus 2020 Act was for a specified period and once restrictions were lifted, full face to face contact resumed.


  • Data on Cases – Clarification was sought on the disparity between the number of cases raised during the year which was 150 and the amount resolved which was reported as 159. Officers said that that the figure was higher as it included cases that had been rolled over from previous years and confirmed that there were no new cases.


  • Serious Case Reviews – in response to a question on the Portfolio Holder’s awareness of cases and findings as well as recommendations made, the Portfolio Holder said that he was aware of cases, discussions as well as actions taken by the team. He proactively sought feedback and assurance to enable him to make sound judgement on the validity of the course of action being undertaken by the team.


The Vice - Chair thanked the Portfolio Holder for his attendance and engagement with Members.




The Committee noted the report and requested that officers arrange a demonstration of the ‘Mind of my own’ App for all Members of the Committee

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