Streamlined procedures, a culture of continuous learning and close cross-authority co-operation are strengthening safeguarding procedures for young people.
Members of Calderdale’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board were updated on recent changes to safeguarding, following the borough being chosen by Government as one of the first 17 “early adopters” of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, by the chair of the Calderdale Safeguarding Children Partnership, Nick Frost.
Mr Frost had previously been independent chair of the Calderdale Safeguarding Children Board and answered questions from board members on how effective the new structure was.
There are three statutory partners – the local authority, the police and the Clinical Commissioning Group – in CSCP.
Clear policy, procedures, guidance and training helped streamline processes and serious cases were reviewed more quickly.
The national panel for partnerships focused on themes, the first being knife crime.
The changeover was progressing very successfully, to the extent where Calderdale had been singled out at a national conference and commended for the way it was being handled, he said.
After a question and answer session Board chair Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said members looked forward to seeing the first annual report next spring. He was highly confident of a good rating based on what the board had learned.
Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) asked what were the partnership’s challenges over the next few years.
Mr Frost said one of the main ones with safeguarding was always there – dealing with challenges which were unknown.
This year they had been asked in Calderdale to prioritise internet safety.
Often rather than being problems in the home, young people’s concerns were more community based, for example bullying and knife crime.
“So it is safeguarding young people in the context that they live in,” said Mr Frost.
Abuse was probably the number one issue and again the partnership worked with five others across West Yorkshire to tackle it “because abusers don’t stop at borders – we share information and share intelligence and the police have been excellent in this, a very impressive response,” said Mr Frost.
This also covered issues such as County Lines gangs, he said.
Mr Frost added that while he was optimistic there was no relaxation of concentration – safeguarding was always a challenge.
Calderdale’s child sexual exploitation (CSE) team was settled and this was important because building a relationship with young people who had been abused was easier to do than in a situation where social workers changed every few months, said Mr Frost.
The board were told consultation through the CSCP Young Advisors had seen 424 responses about abuse from young people and the findings are being considered by the partnership along with a planned programme of presentations in schools.
Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) asked whether a review of child death notifications, discussed at an earlier board meeting, had taken place.
CSCP Business Manager Julia Caldwell said a partnership of Calderdale, Kirkless and Wakefield was looking at the issue, being a large enough area to identify any trends or patterns.
The child death review process had been streamlined and in every case where there was a review process the panel would receive all the information, she said.