Agenda Item No. 8
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 15 March 2017
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing
Update to Corporate Safeguarding Report (July 2016) - Additional Information
Purpose of the Report
To provide Members of Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee with responses to questions that were raised at their meeting of the 25th of July 2016.
That Scrutiny Committee notes the responses.
Reason for the Recommendation
1. To address the matters raised by the Committee, following consideration of the Corporate Safeguarding update report at its July meeting.
In 2011 a Corporate Safeguarding Group was established in the Vale of Glamorgan to ensure that robust arrangements for protecting children, young people and adults were in place. It is chaired by the Director of Social Services. The Group works to an action plan that addresses findings from experience, inspection and audit. Cabinet receives regular reports from the group, agreed by the Corporate Management Team, so that it can exercise effective oversight of safeguarding activity across the Council. These reports are referred to the relevant Scrutiny Committees.
Update reports are presented to Cabinet at 6 monthly intervals and referred to all Scrutiny Committees. The last update report was considered by Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee on the 25th of July 2016.
The Operational Managers for Housing Services and Leisure who represent the Directorate of Environment and Housing on that Group were not present at the Scrutiny meeting and therefore Members requested a further report to provide additional information that could not be provided on the evening.
Relevant Issues and Options
Scrutiny Members at their meeting requested clarification on a number of technical and operational issues which flowed from the update report and these questions and officer responses are provided below.
What is the Membership of the Corporate Safeguarding Group?
Phil Evans, Director of Social Services (Chair)
Reuben Bergman, Head of HR
Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People Services
Matthew Brown, Interim Operational Manager Safeguarding
Ruth Ferrier, Lead Professional officer, School Improvement
Tony Curliss, Operational Manager, Customer Relations
Mike Ingram, Operational Manager, Public Housing
David Knevett, Operational Manager, Leisure
Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager, HR
Alyson Watkins, Personnel Officer
When will the new versions of the "Working Together" and "In Safe Hands" national documents be available?
Welsh Government began discussions about starting the review of both documents in December 2015, with completion expected early this year. This timescale was subsequently withdrawn and all Local Authorities were advised that the review would commence later in 2016.
On 1st August, the Welsh Government sent a letter to the Chairs of all the regional Adult and Children Safeguarding Boards inviting them to nominate one of the Safeguarding Board partners to facilitate the review and re-production of the all-Wales adult and child procedures. It asks that, if Boards continue to share the view of the benefits of the all-Wales procedures and wish to proceed with their review and re-fresh, they should submit a short outline business case and operational costs to Welsh Government by 1st September. This matter will now be discussed at the next scheduled meetings of the Cardiff and Vale Adult and Children's Board executive boards. In the meantime, attempts are being made to clarify some of the issues which the letter does not resolve. The new 'Working Together to Safeguard People' Guidance will be published following public consultation planned for end of January 2017.
Is the Council able to handle the rise in demand as a consequence of revised safeguarding arrangements, particularly in relation to safer recruitment?
Compliance rates for the Safer Recruitment Policy, now in its fourth year, are improving. This has been facilitated by a significant increase in support from Human Resources and TransAct and the use of an escalation process for school appointments. In terms of pre-employment checks, the requirement for 2 references and a DBS to support the appointment mirrors the requirements in place prior to the introduction of the Safer Recruitment Policy. However, the introduction of the Policy has allowed the Council to significantly tighten up on its procedures in terms of requiring the checks to be in place before a start date is arranged or, in exceptional circumstances, completion of a Safer Recruitment Risk Assessment form which is then to be managed in line with policy requirements. The responsibility of overseeing this process remains with the line manager/Head Teacher. It is worth noting that this is based on our current arrangements in relation to DBS renewals which are limited to posts where a renewal is required by the CSSIW. Should the Council move towards requiring three-yearly renewals for all posts which come under Safer Recruitment, more resources will be required to manage this demand.
What about the "DBS E Bulk" solution?
The DBS e-bulk service will allow the Council to submit multiple electronic applications for DBS certificates and receive the results electronically. The Council is continuing to investigate the potential for making use of this potential solution in considering the quicker response rate against the increased financial cost of the accessing service and potential ICT implications.
The percentage of employees who start with the Council without a risk assessment (2% at 21days and 2% no assessment in place) indicated to Members that the Council "could not cope".
Compliance rates with the Safer Recruitment policy are improving in comparison to previous years. Current figures which are due to be presented to Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee show a compliance rate of 93% for the period 1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016. This is a 30% increase in compliance to that of the previous accounting period (December 2014 to March 2015). As mentioned, this has been facilitated by a significant increase in support from Human Resources and TransAct and the use of an escalation process in schools to monitor the Risk Assessment process.
We are currently able to report that during 1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016 there were 9 risk assessments outstanding at the point of commencement, one of which remained outstanding 21 days following starting in the post (details of which are set out in the relevant report). In the previous accounting period, there were 35 outstanding risk assessments at commencement, 6 of which remained outstanding 21 days following starting in post. This displays a significant improvement in compliance expectations.
All Risk Assessments were in place for the period 1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016. This is in comparison to 4 which were outstanding for the previous accounting period between the 1st December 2014 to 31st March 2015.
The above information illustrates a continued and significant improvement in achieving compliance with the Safer Recruitment policy.
In addition the rise in the POVA rates may also indicate that Council "cannot cope":
The rise in POVA rates reflects the national picture. This has many potential explanations including an increase in awareness resulting in more people reporting, concern that recent austerity measures may have resulted in deterioration in the quality of care provision, and also improved data gathering and reporting on local figures. In order to respond to this increase, the Vale has secured an additional POVA co-ordinator role within the team.
Have the new arrangements made any real difference i.e. has the Council picked up anything new that we did not pick up before?
To date, there have been no clear examples that the new arrangements have picked up matters that would not have been apparent previously. In terms of safer recruitment, it has been noted that perpetrators of abuse are more likely to seek appointments in organisations which are demonstrably less vigilant. Regarding protection processes, the duty to report regulation means that some professionals have started to bring to the attention of the POVA team cases which would have been dealt with less formally.
It is also envisaged that the review of 'In safe Hands' will call for stronger powers in areas of POVA than under the current arrangements to ensure consistency across the whole safeguarding arena. For example, the Part 4 arrangements for adults working with children under the All Wales Child Protection Procedures could be adopted in adult services.
Have the new arrangements improved the quality of safeguarding or has it made the process more "bureaucratic"
Arrangements have been put in place within C1V to ensure that adult safeguarding referrals are managed under a single point of access process. This will ensure that all referrals are screened and progressed appropriately. The ultimate aim is that such arrangements will lead to a reduction in the inappropriate referrals that have previously come through to the POVA team, thereby allowing the team to prioritise their work accordingly.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
There are no direct resource implications associated with this report though the implementation of safeguarding arrangements generally places additional demands on areas such as recruitment, training and monitoring.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
There are no sustainability or climate change implications arising directly from this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
There are no direct legal implications associated with this report though the implementation of safeguarding arrangement places a statutory duty on the Local Authority to ensure children are properly safeguarded and protected from harm.
Crime and Disorder Implications
There are no direct crime and disorder implications associated with this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
The Safer Recruitment policy excludes consideration of employment for all applicants for posts within regulated activity who criminal actions /convictions mean that they are unsuitable or who are included within the barred list.
The work of the Corporate Safeguarding Group assists the Council in meeting the following corporate objectives:
Well-being Outcome 1: An inclusive and safe Vale - Objective 2: Providing decent homes and safe communities.
Well-being Outcome 3: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale - Objective 5: Raising overall standards of achievement.
Well-being Outcome 4: An Active and Healthy Vale - Objective 8: Safeguarding those who are vulnerable and promoting independent living.
Policy Framework and Budget
This report is within the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
There has been no individual ward member consultation in respect of this report as it is an issue that affects the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan.
Cabinet Report (C3218) 20th June 2016 - Corporate Safeguarding update
Homes and Safe Communities Report (min no 219) 25th July 2016- Corporate Safeguarding update (ref)
Mike Ingram, Operational Manager Housing Services.
Interim Operational Manager Safeguarding and Performance
Lead Professional officer, School Improvement
Alyson Watkins, HR Officer
Committee Reports, Legal Services.
Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing