Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 17TH JUNE, 2013
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH): 20TH MAY, 2013
"29 UPDATE REPORT: MANAGING ALLEGATIONS OF PROFESSIONAL ABUSE – COMPLIANCE WITH PART IV OF THE ALL WALES CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES (DSS) –
Committee received a report which assured that the Council complies with the requirements of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures as they relate to managing allegations of professional abuse.
The Council took very seriously its responsibility for complying with Part IV of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures 2008 which dealt specifically with the handling of professional abuse cases. The Council was able to demonstrate that allegations involving professionals were pursued rigorously.
In this context, the allegations of abuse may involve all professionals, employees and volunteers working for or accredited by a public, voluntary, private agency, place of worship or faith organisation or independent contractor, whose work brought them into contact with children. Allegations of abuse may be made against an individual employee in either their private life or their working capacity.
Where these allegations involve Council staff, serious matters that may constitute gross misconduct were supported by suspension of the employee(s), subject to investigation. In all instances, such issues were determined by a Head of Service or above. Any allegation of potential abuse brought to the attention of Human Resources was referred immediately to the safeguarding unit in Social Services and advice obtained. Should allegations be made against education and school staff, discussions always took place between the designated officers for safeguarding in Social Services and the Learning and Skills Directorates. When taking forward action that could potentially involve suspending, dismissing or terminating the contract of a Vale employee, the Managing Director and the Leader were advised at the point of application or shortly after, if they were unavailable.
Appropriate attendance at strategy meetings to agree how investigating agencies would manage the allegation was determined by the designated safeguarding officer in Social Services, who chaired all strategy meetings under Part IV of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures. Where allegations involved education staff, the Head or Deputy Head would attend the strategy meeting (unless the allegation relates to them), plus the designated safeguarding officer in the Learning and Skills Directorate.
Police representatives attend all strategy meetings. In every case of professional abuse, the meeting always considered whether a criminal investigation was appropriate.
Outcome review meetings were convened as appropriate to review progress and to manage risk until the matters had been properly concluded.
At the time of the previous six monthly report, three investigations remained ongoing. Two of these investigations have concluded: one involving investigation by the Police and referral to the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the General Teaching Council for Wales and the other concluding with investigation by the employer. The third matter remained ongoing and was now subject to ongoing Court proceedings.
Between 1st September 2012 and 31st March 2013, 18 allegations of professional abuse received by Social Services crossed the threshold for a strategy meeting. 16 had been concluded, and two were the subject of ongoing Police investigation and the conclusion of Court proceedings.
Eight of the 18 allegations involved Vale of Glamorgan Council staff, five in Social Services (foster carers) and three in Learning in Skills. Two of the 18 related to self-employed individuals, three to volunteers and one to the public sector. The remaining four concerned staff in independent sector residential care and fostering.
Of the 16 concluded matters:
· six of the allegations were retracted
· six were investigated by the Police (four jointly with Social Services)
· four were investigated by Social Services.
16 of the 18 allegations involved investigation by the employer / voluntary organisation in addition to Social Services and / or Police investigation or as an action agreed by the strategy group.
In two of the 16 concluded matters, individuals had been charged with offences. In respect of the matters not yet concluded, two individuals were awaiting Court prosecution. Where disciplinary processes had been instigated, two concluded matters had resulted in the dismissal of staff and one in foster carers being de-registered. The remainder involved additional training requirements for staff or additions and amendments to policies and procedures. Referral to relevant regulatory and professional bodies and to the Independent Safeguarding Authority had been undertaken as appropriate.
Members enquired as to the number of allegations that had been made in the previous six months, but this information was not available.
Members were advised that the Council has established a Safe Recruitment Policy, which represented a major milestone for the Council. It was further reported that the Director of Social Services, the Head of Human Resources and the Director of Learning and Development separately reported to CMT on a six monthly basis and the view was put that it would be helpful if each of these reports were submitted to Cabinet.
Members enquired as to how many of the reported incidents could have been prevented through proper training and were advised that it would require analysis on a case by case basis to answer that question. This information however could be included in the next such report to Committee.
The view was expressed that, whilst the report gave Members the numbers of allegations, it did not provide the background to those allegations. As such, the report presented difficulty to the Members achieving a full understanding of the issues. It was suggested that a flow chart for each individual case be presented to Committee in future.
Having considered the content of the report, it was
(1) T H A T the contents of the report and the work undertaken to ensure best practice in managing allegations of professional abuse be noted.
(2) T H A T the Director of Social Services provide a report on a six monthly basis about how allegations of professional abuse have been managed by the Council.
(3) T H A T the report be presented to Cabinet for information.
(4) T H A T the reports prepared six monthly for CMT by the Head of Human Resources and Director of Learning and Development be also reported to Cabinet.
Reason for recommendations
(1-4) To ensure that the Council has in place effective arrangements for overseeing this key area of work for safeguarding children."
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 20th May, 2013