[Alan Coe, Independent Chair of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, to present annual report]
Alan Coe, Independent Chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB), presented the annual report. The Independent Chair commented that the report represents a summary of partnership work activity between a range of local organisations involved in safeguarding children. The Independent Chair explained that he is responsible to the Chief Executive, City of Wolverhampton Council and meets with him to review progress.
The Independent Chair works 30 days a year and is supported by Gillian Ming, Children Safeguarding Board Manager. It is a statutory requirement for the Board to publish an annual report. The Independent Chair highlighted the key achievements of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board and specifically the improved website which provides a range of information and resources. The Independent Chair commented that there has better engagement by schools in the safeguarding agenda. All local schools were invited to attend an annual conference to discuss safeguarding issues. The attendance by schools at safeguarding events has improved. The panel were advised while there is no obligation on schools to send a representative to the event, they are encouraged to do so and non-attendance is monitored.
The Independent Chair commented on the work done to improve regional working arrangements. The Independent Chair praised the safeguarding work of the Council to improve the regulation of licensed premises and regulated services to meet its safeguarding responsibilities.
The panel were invited to attend the MASH offices to see the work being done and commented that the service was an example of good partnership working in practice.
The panel queried the involvement of children and young people in the work of WSCB. The Independent Chair responded that young people with direct experience of the care system were working with members of the B-Safe Team. The WSCB partly fund the work of the B-Safe Team. The team have met with Councillor Gibson, Cabinet Member for Children. Cllr Gibson commented that concerns about the issue of bullying raised by young people led to the development of the anti-bullying campaign. In addition, work is being done to get a small group of young people together to act as ambassadors.
The panel discussed the definition of neglect and the number of cases reported to the WSCB. The Independent Chair commented that the issue of neglect is a major concern among members of WSCB. The Board has recently produced guidance to get greater consistency in how professionals recognise signs of neglect, which has led to a greater consistency in approach by partners.
The Independent Chair commented on the role of other agencies such as west midlands fire service in reporting any concerns about the welfare of children in a property they have visited. Gillian Ming, Safeguarding Manager, commented on the training provided to agencies to strengthen safeguarding arrangements to deliver more effective services.
The panel queried how the WSCB has considered the issue of mental health and the work done to identify and support children. The Independent Chair commented on the support given to victims of CSE.
The panel expressed concern about whether the right people were represented on the Board and the pattern of poor attendance detailed in the report by some organisations. The Independent Chair commented that all the organisations are engaged with the work of the Board and that the low rate of attendance should not be seen as a reflection of their level of commitment to safeguarding children. The Independent Chair also explained that organisations such as a fire service who offer a regional wide service are not able to attend all safeguarding board meetings across the seven different local authorities it covers due the limited staff resources. The Independent Chair advised that representatives of the fire service give priority to attending Safeguarding Adult Board meetings.
The Safeguarding Manager explained that the attendance figures were not correct and agreed to reproduce the report and share it with members of the Board.
The panel discussed the role and work of Child Death Panel during the year. The Safeguarding Manager explained that the Board had reviewed the circumstances involving 23 child deaths in Wolverhampton in 2015/16.
The panel commented on how different agencies were coping with the work demands and responding to the pressures, for example, a 34 percent increase in the number of CSE cases. The Independent Chair commented that every agency is under its own resource pressure and was confident that there was no evidence that cases were not being properly assessed, in order to reduce the demand.
The panel discussed the procedures and policies to monitor and identify pupil who are absent from schools.
The panel discussed the ethnic profile of children and young people known to the Board. The Independent Chair commented that children who are white European are over represented in the number of referrals received and minority ethnic children are under-represented. The Independent Chair agreed that the situation needs to be carefully monitored and removed to identify children at risk. The Safeguarding Manager commented on the work being planned to improve the quality of data. A report on the findings will be presented to Children’s Trust Board in December 2016.
1. The panel welcomed the report and progress made.
2. The panel agreed to receive correct details of attendance at WSCB meetings