Agenda item

Safeguarding Children Annual Report 2015/16


The Chair introduced Kerry Mehta (Head of Safeguarding) and David Robbins (Business Manager, Wirral Safeguarding Children Board) who were in attendance to present, and answer questions on, the Safeguarding Children Annual Report 2015/16.


Mr Robbins presented information on the statutory functions and  objectives of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) as set out in Section 14 of the Children Act 2004, namely:


  • to coordinate what is done by each person or body  represented on the Board for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area; and


  • to ensure the effectiveness of what is done by each such person or body for those purposes.


Mr Robbins informed of the structure of the LSCB and the local background and safeguarding context for 2015/16 as follows:


  • Population of Wirral is 320,200 with 70,500 children and young people (0-18);


  • 22% of Wirral children live near or below poverty line. Almost all of these live between Wallasey, Birkenhead and Rock Ferry;


  • 2015-16 has continued to be a time of austerity and significant public sector change. Key ongoing challenge for partnership is to prioritise reduced resources with effective early help crucial;


  • High incidence of neglect and domestic abuse, and high numbers of children looked after remain a challenge; and


  • Children’s Services and WSCB both rated as Inadequate following Ofsted Inspection. Improvement Journey begun.


The People Overview and Scrutiny Committee were then apprised of the LSCB’s progress against the following key priorities:


  • Safeguarding is Everyone’s Responsibility –ensuring that Children and Young People feel safe and are safe;


  • Child Sexual Exploitation – ensuring children and Young People have non-exploitative relationships;


  • Effectiveness of Early Help - the Needs of Children and Young People are Identified Early;


  • Domestic Abuse - Children and Young People live in Homes where they feel Safe; and


  • Radicalisation – that Children and Young People are not Radicalised.


Members paid particular attention to information presented on the Ofsted inspection of children’s services and the effectiveness of the Wirral Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) undertaken in July 2016, noting that both children’s services and the WSCB were judged to be inadequate 19 recommendations for improvement were made to the LA and that 7 were made for the WSCB. Including;


  • Review of governance; independence, influence and challenge; sighted on needs of privately fostered children and those placed in Wirral; notifications of serious incidents; accurate performance information; review of auditing; and


  • WSCB has developed an improvement plan and progress is reviewed at each WSCB meeting and through an improvement board and quarterly monitoring visits.


Mr Robbins informed Members regarding the WSCB Business Plan  for 2016-18 that included a number of priority areas, namely:


Priority One - Children in need of help and protection are identified and responded to at the earliest opportunity by services effectively working together.


Priority Two - Children are protected from sexual exploitation by a skilled workforce, and the wider community is equipped to understand and respond to concerns.


Priority Three - Children and Young People who are Looked After, including those placed in Wirral by other Local  Authorities are supported by agencies who effectively work together to keep them safe. 


Priority Four - Through its effective governance and relationships with influential forums and groups the Wirral Safeguarding Children Board ensures all partner agencies meet the needs of Children and Young People. 


Following the presentation, Members questioned Mr Robbins and Ms Mehta on issues surrounding compilation of the report, background evidence and subject areas of audit reviews, child deaths, accuracy and scrutiny of data, and recording of data surrounding missing children i.e those in care, length of absence, repeat episodes etc.


On behalf of the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Chair thanked the speakers and the Wirral Safeguarding Children Board for their Annual Report.


The Chair then stated that to help Committee Members to understand more fully the role and responsibilities of the Local Safeguarding Children Board and therefore improve their ability to scrutinise its work, they ask that a ‘Focus Session’ be arranged as part of the Committee work programme. The Chair further stated that Members would look to use the session to influence future work programmes and strengthen the relationship between the Board and the Committee.


Members noted the priority areas and business plan proposed for the forthcoming year will provide a successful delivery on the 7 recommendations within the next year.


Resolved – That a ‘Focus Session’ be arranged as part of the People Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme to help strengthen the relationship between the Committee and the Wirral Safeguarding Children Board, and to aid identification of appropriate topic areas for inclusion in future work programmes.


Supporting documents: