Agenda item

Annual Report of the Independent Reviewing Officer Service

This report outlines service activity and delivery throughout the period from April 2021 until March 2022.





The IRO Manager introduced the report which outlined service activity and delivery throughout the period from April 2021 until March 2022.


Members then raised a number of comments and questions, which included:


  • Children exiting from Care – a Member asked if there had been any

improvement to the number of children whose exits from care as stated in the report were unrecorded or mis-recorded. The officer stated that this area of work remained a priority and an update would be provided in the next report.


It was further commented that the potential safeguarding issue this

posed was of a concern. The officer assured Members that this related to children’s exit from care due to a court decision to return the children to their home, to another family member or due to the fact that they had turned 18. The exits from care in the report did not relate to children who were missing from care or home as that was recorded separately.


  • Workforce – it was asked what was being done to attract a more diverse workforce in order to meet the needs of children as it was noted that in the last year, all staff on the team were female. The officer said that the recruitment process was conducted under fair equality and transparent protocols and the service worked to encourage applications from a broad range of people in order to build a diverse workforce. Since this reporting period, a male IRO was now working in the department, and another had been recruited to post.


  • Dispute Resolution Notifications (DRN) – it was commented that there was a lack of context provided to be able to understand the figures presented due to a lack of benchmarking that could be used for comparison. The officer informed the Committee that there was no national benchmarking in place for dispute resolution notifications and whilst this had been discussed amongst the IRO leads in the southeast region, it was difficult to do given how services were set up and data was collected. The differences in different local authorities would have to be taken into consideration in order to build an accurate picture.


  • Management Reporting Line – it was asked what the situation was with management line of reporting in order to alleviate any conflict of interest. It was also asked if obtaining of independent legal advice by IROs’ where needed had been an issue. The Director of People said that management line of reporting was managed in a way to ensure there were no conflicts of interest, or direct reporting to operational management by heads of departments.

The IRO Manager advised that in terms of legal advice, a reciprocal arrangement was being established to ensure that independent IROs would have access to independent advice should they require it.


  • Training – it was asked if all staff were up to date with and had received appropriate training. The officer said that she was assured that all staff were up to date with the level of training needed to deliver the quality of service expected. Mandatory and any other training was reviewed for all staff each year as part of the appraisal process.


  • Caseloads – in response to a question on whether current caseloads were within statutory guidance, the officer said that statutory guidance set caseloads between 50-70. Current caseloads within the team averaged at 65 with staff below this commensurate with their experience and stage of developments i.e whether being supported in a probationary period or within their first year, with more experienced IROs holding greater caseloads. Caseloads had in the past increased temporarily when there had been staff on long term leave for various reasons and the impact of this was managed appropriately.


  • Outcomes – it was asked how the IROs intended to support better adoption in best timeframes for children. The officer said that staff had to actively and consistently explore whether permanency outcomes could be achieved for children. This formed the basis of the IRO’s role which was to ensure there was no drift or delay in achievable outcomes for children.




The Committee noted the report.



Supporting documents: