Multi-agency response to Southend-on-Sea joint targeted area inspection (JTAI)

Published Wednesday, 9th May 2018

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The ‘joint targeted area inspection’ involving the Council, Clinical Commissioning Group, PFCC, Essex Police, Essex Community Rehabilitation Company, National Probation Service and LSCB took place in March.

A joint inspection into how multiple agencies in Southend-on-Sea deal with child sexual exploitation, gangs and missing children has found that staff are tenacious in their efforts to engage with, and make a positive difference for nearly all vulnerable children and young people and are showing a clear commitment to tackling some of the terrible risks facing local young people today.

One case study highlighted how a tight ‘team around a teen’ was formed around a  14 year old who had repeatedly gone missing, suffered from criminal exploitation and was at risk of CSE which reduced emerging risks to him. This strong partnership working and a timely response ensured that the child was safer from harm.

The inspection found that there are strong partnerships in the area and that the police and council work effectively together. The involvement of health agencies must be further developed to ensure that formal and robust processes are put in place and work is already underway to make that happen, through the new Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH+) which has co located key professionals from across the agencies.

Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “We welcome this inspection and welcome its findings.  Whilst there are of course areas for improvement, it is clear from the report that partners across Southend-on-Sea are making a positive difference for vulnerable children and young people.

“This area of work involves dealing with the most vulnerable young members of our society and is an incredibly difficult, challenging, complex and demanding job. I am therefore pleased to see the many positives that come through in this report.

“Whilst there are lots of positives, as with any deep dive inspection on subjects of this nature, there are always areas to learn and improve. There are comments regarding certain processes that need further work, and whilst the majority of the cases reviewed showed that children were kept safer, in one case study they highlighted a lack of sufficiently joined up working meaning that plans had not made one individual significantly safer. That is not good enough, and so all partners are working to ensure those issues are dealt with quickly.”

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet, Essex Police, said: “There is no more important issue in Southend-on-Sea, and across Essex, than keeping vulnerable young people safe. This thorough inspection confirms that strong partnerships are preventing awful crimes every day. We will ensure that we take every possible element of learning from this report and work with partners to develop even better outcomes that improve the life chances of our young people and keep them from harm.”

Elizabeth Chidgey, Independent chair of the Southend Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), said: “We fully accept the report findings and are pleased to see inspectors acknowledging that the issues referenced in the report are already being addressed.  I have put in place structures to improve how the Board functions and meet regularly with senior leaders from the local authority and partner agencies which has already instigated some positive challenge from the board.

“Although these positive changes in the structure and functioning of the board are too recent to have had a significant impact for the purposes of the inspection, I will continue to drive forward the improvements necessary to ensure that the LSCB fulfils its role as a critical and independent eye on the many partner agencies involved in tackling issues like CSE and gangs.”

The report can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website. 

Background:

Between 19 and 23 March 2018, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue services (HMICFRS) and HMI Probation (HMIP) undertook a joint inspection of the multi-agency response to these related areas of risk to children and young people in Southend-on-Sea.

This inspection included a deep dive focus on the response to children and young people experiencing these vulnerabilities. The JTAI also included an evaluation of the multi-agency ‘front door’ and the role played by the local safeguarding children board (LSCB).

The inspection involved the Council, Clinical Commissioning Group, PFCC, Essex Police, Essex Community Rehabilitation Company, National Probation Service and LSCB.