Safeguarding board review ‘must renew focus on child protection’

An expert has warned local safeguarding children boards to ensure their broader well-being agenda does not jeopardise child protection.

Patrick Ayre, senior lecturer in social work at Bedfordshire University, said the Department for Children, Schools and Families should make the issue a top priority in its review of LSCBs, announced last month.

In principle, Ayre supported the boards’ remit of helping children fulfil their potential, as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Failing to make agenda

However, he said issues previously considered by area child protection committees were now failing to make local boards’ agendas.

“Either the relatively narrow issues considered by the [former] area child protection committees were not worth considering at all, or there are some important issues which are no longer receiving much of a high-level multi-agency airing,” he said.

Local safeguarding children board review

  • Will consider progress, accountability, impact and engagement of partners.
  • Will examine whether broader safeguarding focus is jeopardising child protection work.
  • To report by spring 2009.

    Serious case review probe

  • Will consider the quality and impact of SCRs and participation of relevant agencies.
  • To report by summer 2009.

  • Ayre added that LSCBs should not be chaired by council directors of children’s services, as many are, a view shared by Liz Davies, senior lecturer in children and families social work at London Metropolitan University, and the NSPCC.

    Conflict of interest

    The charity’s acting chief executive, Wes Cuell, said current arrangements risked a “conflict of interest”, with directors “accountable for scrutinising the work of the service they lead”. He added that some boards were yet to “grasp the challenge of scrutinising” council work in children’s services.

    The government has also announced a review of serious case reviews. Davies said councils should be required to publish final SCR reports in full. At present, only executive summaries are published, which Davies described as a “defensive practice” by LSCBs.

    A joint inspectorates’ report into safeguarding children found the quality of investigation to be “inadequate” in a quarter of SCRs in England in 2007-8.

    Related articles

    Serious case reviews: why aren’t lessons being learnt?

    Local safeguarding children boards to have three-yearly inspections

    Expert guide to child protection

    External information

    Local safeguarding children boards – information from the Every Child Matters website

    More from Community Care

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