THE multi-agency response to safeguarding children across Gloucestershire has been praised in a report following a wide-ranging inspection of services.
Inspectors from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conducted a Joint Targeted Area Inspection of the county council, police and NHS from June 12 to 16.
It considered the county’s response to the identification of initial need and risk, often referred to as the ‘front door’.
The report praised the strength of Gloucestershire’s strategic partnership between the county council, NHS and police, and the collective commitment of all partners to keeping children and young people in the county safe.
It notes the “mature relationship” is supported by effective governance in the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (GSCP).
Inspectors found that most children living in Gloucestershire who are identified to be in need of help and protection receive a swift and appropriate multi-agency response.
They highlighted a daily multi-agency vulnerability meeting held in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), or ‘front door,’ as a key strength.
It promotes effective partnership working where information on the current impact of risks to children is shared and next steps are identified and considered, including who is best to work with children and their families.
The report found that when children’s needs warrant further children’s social care intervention, assessments are detailed and thorough with children seen promptly, including the same day if required. Children are visited at home and when appropriate, in school. Inspectors said children’s plans lead to children receiving the right help and intervention.
Senior leaders were found to have appropriate oversight and knowledge of the effectiveness of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and inspectors noted their commitment to a continuous learning environment, which they said results in proactive intervention to improve services for children.
The “strong” partnership between schools and the police was praised in the report.
It notes that Gloucestershire Constabulary provide training and attend assemblies to talk to children about keeping safe in areas such as online safety and knife crime. Inspectors found this is valued highly by schools who say it is effective in de-escalating issues that may otherwise increase risks to children.
The report also highlights a multi-agency child exploitation meeting which allows partners to effectively share intelligence and information about local hot spots, perpetrators, and persons of concern enabling professionals to identify emerging themes and develop targeted disruption activity. Dedicated teams in the police and the youth support service focus on missing children and the inspection found professionals know these children well.
Steps are being taken to make progress in the areas that inspectors found needed improvement, including the efficiency of partner recording systems, the consistent use of police vulnerability screening tools and making sure children’s voices are used to inform decisions across all partner agencies.
Ann James, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “I am pleased with the outcome of this inspection for the partnership and our workforce but primarily for children and families in Gloucestershire.
“It validates the improvement work we have implemented following the last full Ofsted inspection in 2022 and provides a great basis from which we can continue to drive improvement for children, families and our communities.”