Inspectors have praised the multi-agency input into social work assessments in Central Bedfordshire as part of a “deep dive” look at responses to child sexual exploitation.
Ofsted, the CQC, the probation and constabulary inspectorates launched a joint review of the multi-agency response to abuse and neglect in the area, with a focus on child sexual exploitation.
The report found that partners showed “a clear and collective determination to improve services for children and young people” and that the local authority provided “a clear strategic vision that is championing improvement”.
On the issue of assessments it said: “Overall, social work assessments of children’s needs are well informed by other agencies, and resulting plans are proportionate and effective. Risks are prioritised and assessments are timely, resulting in interventions that protect the majority of children from harm.”
Inspectors said thresholds for intervention were “generally understood and applied well by almost all agencies” and found moves to ensure every GP practice had a linked social worker had assisted effective communication.
The safeguarding hub and social care assessment teams were found to “provide a timely response to the range of problems that children and young people experience”, they added.
“In particular, children and young people generally receive high quality services at the first point of contact with children’s social care,” the inspection said.
The report found children identified as at risk of child sexual exploitation received effective advice and support. It also said joint working between children’s social care and safeguarding nurses at other locations was “strong”.
Inspectors did however note that the tool used to assess the risk of child sexual exploitation by social workers was “insufficiently detailed” and not widely used by other agencies.
“Specific potential risks in relation to young men and boys and young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are not included in the tool,” the report found.
“Agencies have recognised these limitations and a more comprehensive tool is about to be launched following work undertaken by the local authority CSE coordinator. However, this means that partners cannot be assured that risk was considered fully in every historic risk assessment.”
The review added that the design, delivery and commissioning of services had not been “sufficiently informed” by the direct experience of children and young people.