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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 7 September, 2015

Report of the Leader

Corporate Safeguarding Update

Purpose of the Report

1.    To update Cabinet members on the work that has been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults who require specific Council services and to ensure that these arrangements are effective.

Recommendations

1.    That Cabinet notes the work that has been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults.

 

2.    That Cabinet continues to receive six-monthly reports on work carried out to improve corporate safeguarding arrangements and the effectiveness of relevant policies.

 

3.    That the report is referred to the Social Care & Health, Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committees for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To ensure that Cabinet is aware of recent developments in corporate arrangements for safeguarding.

 

2.    To allow Cabinet to exercise effective oversight of this key area of corporate working.

 

3.    To respond to requests that each Scrutiny Committee is provided with update reports.

Background

2.    In 2011, CSSIW and Estyn published a joint report following their investigation into the way Pembrokeshire County Council was managing allegations of professional abuse and its arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services.  Significant concerns were expressed in the report about the quality of corporate working to safeguard and protect children by the local authority.

 

3.    Following that report, a Corporate Safeguarding Working Group was established in this authority to learn lessons from the Pembrokeshire investigation and to ensure robust arrangements for protecting children and young people in the Vale of Glamorgan area.  The group produced an action plan to improve safeguarding across the council and Cabinet agreed a Safer Recruitment Policy for the Council and Schools (January 2013).  The Policy was implemented in April 2013.  It has been adopted by all Vale schools and throughout the Council.  Since implementation, there have been a substantial number of changes in Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) eligibility and administrative arrangements.  These have been incorporated within a revised DBS policy and procedure, which Cabinet approved in March of this year.  A new action plan is being developed by the Corporate Safeguarding Working Group to address findings from experience, inspection and audit.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.    In the past, safeguarding activity by different parts of the Council has been reported separately to Cabinet, relevant Scrutiny Committees and Corporate Management Team.  Attached at Appendix 1 is the second report that brings together safeguarding activity undertaken by the Resources, Learning and Skills and Social Services Directorates.  This provides a more holistic representation of safeguarding activity across the Council.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

5.    As a consequence of revised safeguarding arrangements in respect of recruitment processes, additional demands are being placed on head teachers and managers and upon TransAct in administering risk assessments, ensuring that these are completed and dealing with managers' queries with regard to their various roles in safer recruitment.  Meeting the need for additional training also has resource consequences for schools and the Safeguarding Officer in Learning and Skills.  Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) commitments are time-consuming, particularly conducting Audits within Education, assisting in Child Practice Reviews and delivering training for 'Working Together'.

 

6.    All DBS counter signatories, Human Resources and TransAct staff experience considerable workload demands in administering the new DBS arrangements, in particular obtaining a copy of the DBS disclosure certificate from the applicant.  These arrangements have increased the timescales necessary to determine the suitability of the applicant and to log the DBS response, which in turn has contributed to delay in concluding the recruitment process.

 

7.    The cost of DBS disclosure applications has not changed since 2013.  However, with introduction of the DBS Update Service (which depends upon the individual paying an annual subscription), the opportunity for the person's DBS disclosure to be portable could help to reduce the timescale for the Council to access future DBS disclosures.  Although very few applicants have registered with the DBS Update Service so far, it is expected that these numbers will increase which will reduce both application and administration costs of future DBS checks.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

8.    There are no sustainability or climate change implications arising directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

9.    The duties of the local authority to ensure that children are properly safeguarded and protected from harm are set out in legislation.  Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 imposes a duty on a local authority to make arrangements for ensuring that their education functions are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.  Section 28 of the Children Act 2004 imposes a duty on local authorities to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.  In fulfilling its responsibilities, the local authority should have effective quality assurance systems in place to ensure that the necessary checks and balances are in place to safeguard and protect children.

 

10.    The Wales Interim Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Abuse is intended to guide the safeguarding work of all those concerned with the welfare of vulnerable adults.  These Procedures are based on certain principles of the European convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.  The provision of the Social Services and Well-Being Act provide a new statutory framework for the protection of adults at risk.

 

11.    The Welsh Government Guidance, Safeguarding Children; Working together under the Children Act 2004 has been issued in accordance with the Children Act 2004 and under Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 provides the working basis for the All Wales Child Protection Procedures.  The All Wales Child Protection Procedures reflect the values and principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the rights of the child.  The Welsh Government developed these values and principles in Children and Young People: Rights to Action 2004, and adopted core aims and outcomes through which it is committed to work with all children and young people.  The key outcome for improving the well-being of children includes the requirement that children live in a safe environment and be protected from harm.  The All Wales Child Protection Procedures take account of various legislation, guidance, research and reports.

 

12.    In relation to DBS arrangements, key elements of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 have been implemented all of which will be taken account of within the revised DBS policy and guidance which was recently approved by Cabinet.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.    Any application for employment for those posts included within the definition of regulated activity by candidates who are included on the relevant barred list will be considered a criminal act and reported to the Police and relevant registration body (if appropriate).

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.    The Safer Recruitment policy legitimately excludes consideration for appointment of all applicants for posts within regulated activity whose criminal actions/convictions mean that they are deemed unsuitable or who are included within the barred list.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.    The work of the Corporate Safeguarding Group assists the Council in meeting the following corporate objectives:

  • “To safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people so that they have a healthy life, physically and emotionally, which is free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation and homes which support their physical and emotional wellbeing."
  • "To promote health and wellbeing and ensure the safety of our learners particularly those with Additional Learning Needs and our most vulnerable learners."

Policy Framework and Budget

16.    This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.    This is an issue which affects all areas of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.    Social Care and Health, Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

The All Wales Child Protection Procedures (2008)

The Protection of Vulnerable Adults Procedures (2013)

Contact Officer

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Corporate Safeguarding Group

Responsible Officer:

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

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