NEWSLETTER – DECEMBER 2016

CHAIR’S INTRODUCTION

I am delighted to include a wide variety of items in the first newsletter as the new Chair of AILC and I look forward to a challenging year when we will need to sustain the quality and relevance of all our work in safeguarding. We intend that the newsletter, also available through the website, will appear as a regular update on key issues.

AILC NEWS

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON CHILDREN & SOCIAL WORK BILL

The Children and Social Work Bill is now being considered by the House of Commons. It had its 2nd Reading on 5th December and is currently being considered through the committee stage, which is when most amendments and debate on the details will take place. This stage is scheduled to finish by 17 January 2017, following which guidance and implementation will be developed through to 2018*.

So far much attention has focused on the social work regulation sections of the Bill, the proposals for care leavers and adoption, and the innovation and discretion powers for children’s services to ask for dispensation from legislation (the exemption provisions). The Government has already responded to these areas with amendments and has insisted that these arrangements are not about the privatisation of children’s services, although they have been adamant that it is also the Government’s wish to see new models of provision.

The proposals for new local safeguarding arrangements have not received anything like the same degree of scrutiny, and yet will fundamentally alter the basis of multi-agency arrangements, and will bring in radical changes to Serious Case Reviews, CDOP and LSCBs.

The Association will be briefing MPs on our concerns about these proposals, based on the key propositions that we have set out, and which you endorsed strongly at the Sheffield Conference. While we recognise there is a need to overhaul, streamline and improve safeguarding, we do not accept the argument that the current system is broken or fails to protect children. In particular we will be stressing three key risks of the Bill’s proposals:

  1. Local safeguarding arrangements must involve all partners on an equal footing, not just the three agencies of LAs, Police and Health. Schools, housing agencies, health providers and the community and voluntary sector, criminal justice agencies, and others, are as fundamental to effective safeguarding practice and the protection of children as the three prime agencies named in the Bill;
  2. There must be a strong element of independent challenge and scrutiny built into new arrangements that can champion the rights and interest of children in the face of competing agency priorities - this is not set out in the Bill and it is not sufficient to assume that the three prime partners will share common objectives for safeguarding or for children’s well-being;
  3. The expertise, knowledge, skills and funding that ensure local safeguarding arrangements are effective must be sustained and the duty on all partners to contribute and cooperate to multi-agency working at both strategic and operational levels must be maintained. The Bill does not make these essential requirements clear. Local safeguarding arrangements must scrutinise and challenge new models of working: and we must rise to the challenge of doing this with rigour and impact.

The Association will be briefing MPs on our concerns about these proposals, based on the key propositions

The Association will be submitting its views to MPs over the next few weeks, and working with other national stakeholders, to ensure that the Bill does not weaken the fundamentals of strong multi-agency working: obligations on all partners; independent scrutiny and challenge; adequate authority and resource to fulfill the functions required.

The MPs briefing information will be circulated to you shortly. If you have contacts with your local MPs please be ready to brief them on the Association’s views.

Please let us know of individual MPs with an interest in child protection and welfare who we can ensure get the necessary information in this important stage of the debate.

We are not defending LSCBs as the default structure for local arrangements, but we are determined to point out how the current Bill undermines the core principles of effective safeguarding, and will weaken the capacity of local partners to work together to protect children. We believe there is a strong research and evidence base for these arguments, based on the tragic cases that have prompted previous reforms (from Colwell to Climbie, CSE, Baby Peter and Daniel Pelka); the learning from other SCRs, audits and inspection; AILC’s surveys and the views of partner agencies and professionals working together.

LSCBs may wish to submit their own comments on the Bill if they have views about abolition of LSCBs, or any aspects of the Bill - this must be done in the next three weeks,
here.

* See ‘Government Review of LSCBs’ in the “News” section of AILC’s Website for more information
here.
NEW LSCB INFORMATION

AILC launched its new website just before Conference- each week we review the News page which has all the latest information you need relating to LSCBs. Items which were previously News, and other documents for use in LSCBs can be found throughout the website particularly under Policy, Useful Resources click here.

If you are looking for any particular information, or have any feedback about the new website, please email info@lscbchairs.org.uk or call 07880 209 788.

AILC SURVEY REPORT on INDEPENDENCE, SCRUTINY & CHALLENGE

What did your LSCB Board members say in AILC's recent survey? 95% of respondents to AILC's survey said “there is a need for an independent role - within any strategic multi-agency safeguarding arrangements” see the report on AILC's website, and also the updated PowerPoint presentation for you to adapt/use with your Boards. Click here.

Some of the comments below:

"I think the independent element and more robustly, a person/persons with no local ties, is crucial to ensuring the safest space to challenge and robustly scrutinise without risk of collusion, corruption and covering up”

“Independent Chairs are vital - they facilitate discussions between agencies that wouldn't happen otherwise”

“Having been around for last 10 years of LSCBs those chairs that work the best are those who can stand up to the CEOs of the Local Authorities. Going back to the LA CEO lead is not the answer.”

An informed proactive independent Chair is key to future independent scrutiny.”

AILC CONFERENCE – NOV 16

I wrote to you on 23rd November 2016 upon taking up the role of AILC Chair to thank all those attending conference, and noting the positive value of Business Managers contributions. We have also written to all our national stakeholders and sister organisations restating our core propositions and reinforcing the message and mandate from the conference. I am very pleased to say that Sally Lewis has been appointed as Conference Convenor for 2018 - do feedback any views to her via info@lscbchairs.org.uk. Sally will be bringing back proposals for next year’s event, and will be working with a wider group to develop these ideas and plan the event during next year.

We have completed an analysis of the event through various mechanisms - this report will be uploaded on our website shortly, under Professional Development. Meanwhile, here are some of the findings from Conference:

  • 86% of delegates rated the quality of the conference as Very Good or Good
  • 88% of delegates rated their Knowledge, skills and confidence as Very High or High after the conference

 "Workshops were excellent. Useful learning. I have noted several questions that I will pursue with my Boards”

“Some clear examples of practice I can take back and integrate into my boards work and approach”

“Excellent genuine proactive leadership shown by the Executive at a key time - have taken a wealth of guidance away with me”

“Networking has created excellent opportunities and learning”

Some of the things you asked us to do:

  • Leading and influencing national policy
  • More time for questions
  • Help Business Managers as well as Chairs to network and share practice

NEW AILC BOARD

The ten current Directors (Chair and eight Regional), are now:

David Ashcroft Chair
Alex Walters Joint Vice Chair / Director - South East
Richard Burrows Joint Vice Chair / Director - North East
Chris Miller Treasurer / Director - Greater London
Andrew Mason Director - West Midlands
Jenny Myers Director - East Midlands
Rob Mayall Director - Yorkshire & Humberside
Sally Lewis Director - South West
Simon Westwood Director - North West

Vacancy Director – East of England

There is a vacancy for East of England. Regional Chairs have been invited to nominate themselves for the position. To the East of England Region, may we remind you that the deadline for nominations is
31st December 2016.

For further information about the AILC Board Directors, please see our website here.

AILC & LSCBs on SOCIAL MEDIA

Is your LSCB on Twitter? Most, but not all of you are! AILC follows all those with a Twitter account, and encourages the remaining few to register. AILC now has 1,075 followers and will regularly retweet your messages, to spread the word nationally about what your LSCB is doing. See @AssocLSCBChairs.

SERIOUS CASE REVIEW - UPDATE on the SCR REPOSITORY

In November 2013 the NSPCC and Association of Independent LSCB Chairs launched the national case review repository. The aim was to provide a single place for published case reviews to make it easier to access and share learning at a local, regional and national level. The repository is accessible via the NSPCC Library online here, which has over 800 case reviews and inquiry reports dating back to 1945. For legal reasons, we need agreement from each LSCB to hold electronic copies of their case reviews commissioned after the 10th June 2010, for a period of five years after publication. We have already received permission from most LSCBs. In January 2017, the NSPCC will be re-contacting the remaining LSCBs, so that we can ensure the repository is as complete as it can be. If you know that you’re LSCB hasn’t yet given permission, or have a query about what permission means, please contact information@nspcc.org.uk.

The NSPCC Library and Information Service also sends out monthly updates of new case reviews added to the national collection. From January 2017 we will be using the LSCB contacts list held by the Association of Independent LSCB Chairs to ensure we have up-to-date details for all LSCBs. We will no longer be sending to individual email addresses. So we ask anyone monitoring generic LSCB email inboxes, to forward the email alert on to members. We hope that this will ensure that the update reaches more of you. Please contact information@nspcc.org.uk if you have any queries.

The NSPCC also publish thematic briefings and are intending to undertake the following:

  • Probation sector
  • Parents with learning difficulties
  • Child mental health services
  • Harmful sexual behaviour

Please let us know if you have any other suggestions for thematic briefings and if you are interested in becoming a member of the virtual SCR Reference Group which support the Association’s workstream on SCRs. This is led, at Board level by Alex Walters at alex4.walters@btinternet.com.

NATIONAL POLICY NEWS

SAFEGUARDING IN SPORT

Following the concerns reported in the national press, AILC has written to the FA and to CPSU to offer to work together. Meanwhile see on AILC's website here, the list of Sports organisations to put on your LSCB websites, click here.

SAFEGUARDING IN SCHOOLS BRIEFING

Andrew Hall provides a useful weekly safeguarding briefing. The latest includes advice on recording honour based violence and Prevent tips. You can subscribe to his briefing here.

NSPCC NATIONAL REVIEW OF LEARNING AND IMPROVEMENT

The NSPCC carried out a study of LSCBs in England and Wales to explore their learning and improvement processes and experiences. They interviewed business managers from 12 LSCBs about how they identify learning opportunities and drive improvement. This report discusses the findings of the research, with practice examples.

This research is relevant in light of the government's response to Alan Wood's independent review of the role and functions of LSCBs in England, You can download the report here

NEW MODERN SLAVERY INFO FROM THE HOME OFFICE

The Home Office have produced some useful materials to help public bodies in their duty to report modern slavery. The materials can also be downloaded here. From 1st November 2015, specified public authorities have had a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any individual encountered in England and Wales, who they believe is a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking. This duty is intended to gather statistics and help build a more comprehensive picture of the nature and scale of modern slavery.

It is estimated that there were 10,000 - 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013, but only 1,746 potential victims were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in the same period. In 2015, this figure rose to 3,266 potential victims. The ‘duty to notify’ provision is set out in Section 52 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and applies to the main public authorities in England and Wales at the time of publication.

CSE FINDINGS - OFSTED REPORT

Time to listen - a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children. Ofsted recently published a joint report with Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation on the multi-agency response to tackling child sexual exploitation over the past two years.

The report, click here, finds that child sexual exploitation can be tackled best when all partners take responsibility for their roles, while also working collaboratively, with strategic goals clearly identified, understood and agreed across agencies. The police must ensure a sufficiently senior person leads this work. Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation looked in depth at how local authorities, the police, probation services, Youth Offending Teams, health services and Local Safeguarding Children Boards are responding to children at risk of child sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school and care in Central Bedfordshire, Croydon, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, and South Tyneside. The report finds that good progress has been made since 2014 to tackle child sexual exploitation and support children who have been missing.

The inspectorates found evidence of improvement in the multi-agency response to tackling child sexual exploitation over the past two years. However, the report is clear that there can be no room for complacency and more can still be done to ensure all children receive consistently good support from all agencies.

ICO DECISION NOTICE

IMR commissioned as part of SCR was not held by the council for the purposes of FOIA. On 11th October 2016, the Information Commissioner's Office issued a decision notice, finding that information prepared by Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council (council) as part of a serious case review (SCR), was held by or on behalf of the Wakefield District Safeguarding Children Board (WDSCB) and not by the council itself. The complainant had requested all communications held by the council in relation to a five year old boy who had been murdered by his father in 2012. The complainant also sought a copy of the individual management report (IMR) submitted by the council as part of the SCR into the circumstances of the child's death.

The council asserted that the information requested was held on behalf of the WDSCB, and was not held by the council for the purposes of Section 3(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The council argued that there was a clear distinction between the WDSCB, and the council. The Information Commissioner (IC) accepted the council's submissions. Source: ICO decision notice: FS50628708 (11th October 2016).

ADCS SAFEGUARDING PRESSURES PHASE 5

ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research has provided evidence of trends in safeguarding activity and the

provision of services to children and their families in five phases spanning 2007/8 to 2015/16.Through each phase, significant increases in safeguarding activity have been reported together with the range of contributing factors, including austerity.

Phase 5, consisting of a main report and two special thematic reports on early help (to be published in early 2017) and unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children brings the evidence base up to date in the current context in which children’s services are operating.The link to the executive summary and full report can be found on AILC's website, click here.

CONTACT the ASSOCIATION

Please do phone the Association on 07880 209 788 if you would like any help at all, or email info@lscbchairs.org.uk if you have queries or comments.

I always welcome feedback on the Newsletter or the activity of the Association. Please contact me at chair@lscbchairs.org.uk.

With best wishes

 

David Ashcroft
AILC Chair
www.lscbchairs.org.uk
Association Phone 07880 209788
Follow us on Twitter @AssocLSCBChairs

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