The purpose of the report is to update the Health and Wellbeing Board on the work of the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) during 2021-22 and to provide members with an update on the MSCP Strategic Plan 2022-23 and Business Plan 2021-23.
The Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance (HSQA) introduced the report. She highlighted the five priorities set by the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) for 2022-2023, namely, 1. Effective partnerships; 2. Contextual safeguarding and trauma informed practice; 3. Domestic abuse; 4. Neglect; 5. Effective early help. She said that the MSCP would be adding a new priority around violence against women and girls and sexually harmful behaviour in September 2022.
The HSQA further advised that the key focus of the MSCP in the past six months was undertaking learning reviews, including rapid or local safeguarding reviews involving serious safeguarding incidents, and learning lessons reviews, whereby agencies together identified potential for learning including good practices. The MSCP Independent Scrutineer had also assessed the impact of local learning reviews, the details of which could be found in the report. She also remarked that the MSCP was able to influence other organisations through multi-agency safeguarding training.
The following issues were discussed:
Multi-agency Safeguarding Training – in response to a question, the HSQA advised that the MSCP Business Manager had engaged with the senior management of the Medway Voluntary Action (MVA). She undertook to provide information on the number of training opportunities taken up by members of MVA organisations in the Annual Report 2021-22 which would follow later in the year.
RAG rating – noting that each action on the MSCP Business Plan 2021 – 2023 (Appendix 2) would be given a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating according to the stated definitions, a query was raised that most of the Amber ratings should in fact be Red. The Assistant Director, Children’s Social Care pointed out that the document, draft version no. 7, was prepared in April 2022 when many of the actions referred to were indeed “progressing with actions likely to be achieved within timescale”. She assured the Board that those actions marked in Amber were still subject to ongoing scrutiny by proper authorities, including the respective Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
Priority One: Effective Partnership – responding to the question on opportunities to work with wider groups of children and young people to support the work of the MSCP, the HSQA remarked that the MSCP benefitted from the Child-Friendly Medway survey that reached hundreds of young people and children, including children in need and children in care, and work in partnership with the commissioned services such as the Young Lives Foundation. She stressed that through different platforms, the MSCP was able to seek the views and listen to the voice of diverse groups of young people.
Priority Three: Domestic Abuse – in relation to services provided to victims of domestic abuse, the Associate Director, Adult and Children’s Safeguarding, Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) advised that the CCG had commissioned hospital independent domestic violence advisor service. The main purpose of the service was to reach out to domestic abuse victims with the aim of reducing the harmful effects domestic abuse had on them.
With reference to the Council’s role within the Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy 2020 – 2023, the HSQA said that this was under the purview of the Director of Public Health. In terms of the Partnership’s response, she relayed that Children’s Service’s staff worked with children, young people and their families where there were victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse and that Children’s Services also had an out of hours service that responded to immediate danger, along with partners in Health and Police.
Priority Four: Neglect – there was a concern that neglect was closely related to the rising cost of living. The HSQA said that 2022 was named the Year of Neglect which acknowledged the challenges of the cost of living. She said that about 200 people across a whole range of partner agencies had taken part in a recent Neglect Conference held virtually, and related issues were discussed and debated with a view to influencing the MSCP strategy. Frontline social workers acknowledged the rising cost of living as an additional risk factor for children and families. At a Board member’s request, the HSQA agreed to provide the conference recording, if available.
Priority Six: Violence against women and girls and sexually harmful behaviour – a Board member referred to the survey conducted by the Community Safety Partnership in which most of the 700+ respondents were females who had particular concerns about street safety. The HSQA echoed the work of the Safe Streets Taskforce in respect of street lighting and the safety of walking home alone and walking in alleyways.
The Health and Wellbeing Board noted the content of the updated report, the Strategic Plan 2022-23 and the draft Business Plan 2021 – 2023, and Board members’ comments made during the discussion.