Safeguarding work under the spotlight

WORK on safeguarding children is set to come under the spotlight early next month.

Hartlepool Borough Council is taking part in a “peer review” which will see local authority officers and specialists from outside of the region head to town for the five-day review, starting September 10.

Senior officers say they requested the review, which is not an inspection, but a chance to learn where the service can be improved.

Independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for children’s and community services at the council, discussed the review at a meeting at the Civic Centre.

Sally Robinson, assistant director of prevention, safeguarding and specialist services, said: “It is important to note that a review is not an inspection and should not be conducted like one by either the review team or the council and its partners.

“The review is intended as a learning process involving critical friends in dialogue with the authority and its partners.

“The outcome will be a clear statement of good practice and areas for development from the peer team.”

Joyce Thacker, director of children’s services for Rotherham, will lead the review together with a team of specialists from other authorities and organisations from across England.

The review team will collect information from a number of sources including performance data, an online questionnaire, and interviews with councillors and staff.

A multi-agency group including the local authority, PCT, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and the police has been created to co-ordinate the collection of data, plans and other information for the review.

The safeguarding review will focus on quality of practice and care planning, impact of early intervention and service re-modelling, partnership work and effectiveness of commissioning.

At the end of the week there will be a feedback presentation and a formal letter outlining good practice and areas which could be improved.

The letter is not published by the Children’s Improvement Board, which is the national body responsible for driving forward standards in children’s services, but senior officers said it will include the letter in a future portfolio report.

The peer review programme is delivered by the Local Government Association, in partnership with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Centre for Excellence and Outcomes and Social Care Centre for Excellence.