Agenda and minutes
Venue: On line meeting only
Contact: Matthew Evans, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interest in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting on 28 July 2020.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting on 28 July are agreed as a correct record and are signed by the Chairperson.
To receive any written questions from members of the public.
Deadline for receipt of questions is 5:00pm on Wednesday 9 September.
Accepted questions and answers will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting. Please submit questions to: email@example.com.
The Chairperson paid tribute to the members of the public who had raised questions on the issue of peer on peer abuse as below:
I would like to pay tribute to all of the members of the public who have submitted questions to this committee over the last year to eighteen months on a number of occasions concerning the safeguarding of children in our schools. I recognise that all members of the public who have brought forward their experiences have done so while enduring deeply personal and often very distressing circumstances. I thank you for your courage and your dignity in bringing your knowledge and experiences of peer on peer abuses to the attention of this committee. But ultimately, and more significantly, on behalf of all of the victims of peer on peer abuse.
As a result of your efforts this issue has been quite rightly highlighted and is receiving widespread attention locally and nationally.
I also wish to convey to those members of the public that I acknowledge that the formal committee setting can sometimes mask the personal impact your questions and evidence have had on me and my committee members. I know I speak for each of them in saying that we have all been deeply moved by your determination and focus on behalf of the families, friends and survivors in bringing forward your evidence.
The Chairperson made the following statement to clarify the answer to the first public question from Mrs Steel:
I believe that at our meeting in June 2020 I stated that the CSO report had only recently come to my attention. That was misleading on my part and I should have said the ownership of the CSO report had only recently come to my attention. As I have explained in my response to Mrs Steel’s written question. I apologise for my clumsy wording and hope that my written response has clarified my knowledge of the CSO report.
A copy of the public questions received, responses provided and the supplementary questions is attached at appendix 1.
To conduct pre-decision scrutiny on developing proposals for a local contract framework for purchasing accommodation based services for care leavers and other vulnerable young people ahead of a key decision in 2020.
The committee considered a report by the Head of Community Commissioning (HCC) which provided an outline of the proposal for the accommodation and support framework for care leavers. The HCC introduced the report and raised the points below:
· The proposal would be considered by Cabinet at the end of 2020 establish a new procurement framework for purchasing accommodation and support services for care leavers and looked after young people post 16.
· Currently there was not a framework in place and the council relied on ad hoc spot purchases for placements.
· The proposal is part of a wider strategic approach across the council to develop and improve the market for and the provision of support and accommodation for care leavers and looked after young people post 16.
· The council was also involved in the strategic commissioning and recommissioning of services which will change the way in which some services are provided. There will however continue to be a reliance on spot purchases of individual placements for care leavers and looked after young people post 16 for a number of years.
· The proposal for a framework is a way to exert greater control over the quality and price of placements. Currently placements are made from independent sector organisations which are often out of Herefordshire, of variable quality and were costly.
· The framework is intended to ensure that: more young people can be placed within Herefordshire to stay connected to families and the community; the council pays a fairer amount for placements; and the quality of placements is consistently high.
· The framework will function by inviting providers to join the framework which incorporates rules for a range of elements including quality and price. Where the need for a placement arises providers on the framework are invited to undertaken a mini-competition to provide a placement for an individual.
· Where a framework is introduced to a market for the first time the impact is likely to be gradual and there is uncertainty over the length of time it will take for the framework to take effect. It is important to ensure a balance between the controls exerted by the framework, particularly in respect of price and quality, but the framework also needs to be attractive to providers to join. It was proposed that controls would be introduced gradually; once the framework was fully operation the controls could be amended and increased.
· The framework would be taken to the market in January 2021 and the framework would be fully operational by April 2021.
During the debate the committee raised the following points:
· There was support for the framework which would provide the council with greater control over where vulnerable children and young people would be placed and that accommodation would be appropriate to their needs. It was recognised that the framework would also improve the quality and standard of accommodation.
· It was noted that recent statistics at a performance challenge had shown that 87% of care leaves were in suitable accommodation which was a significant improvement ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To review progress against the improvement plan produced in response to the Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) inspection judgement of June 2018 and the subsequent Safeguarding and Family Support division improvement plan.
The committee considered a report from the assistant director children’s safeguarding quality and improvement (ADCSQ&I) providing the quarterly review of performance and progress against the safeguarding and family support improvement plan 2020/2021.
The Chairperson explained that the report focused on those elements which required improvement however it should be noted that a number of improvements had been achieved by social workers, particularly in respect of visits, during the pandemic.
The ADCSQ&I introduced the report and outlined the following:
· A briefing paper had been provided to chart the journey in Herefordshire (from inadequate to requires improvement).
· The scorecard demonstrated sustained improvement over the course of the last 12 months.
· Sustained and significant improvement had been achieved and there was now a focus on providing a quality service to children and young people. An assessment of the impact of the work of children’s services on children and their families needed to be undertaken. More audit work was required and 12 months previously 48% of audits had been adjudged inadequate but progress had reduced the figure to 11%.
· Further work was required around listening and responding systematically to children and families to ensure that a regular feedback process formed part of the work of children’s services. Children and families would be given the opportunity to judge the work of children’s services on a scale. Children and families stories and experience would be listened to in order to improve the delivery of services in the future.
· Collaborative auditing was also being undertaken where auditors shadow a social worker who explains the processes and work to deliver services.
· A further improvement consisted of clarity over what good practice consisted of and key to this was the signs of safety approach. On the cover of the improvement plan there were three key questions:what’s going well; what are we worried about and; and what SMART actions were to be taken forward over the next quarter.
The following points were raised in the debate:
· The presentation of the report had improved with a focus on what the service was doing well, what not doing so well and what needed to be monitored.
· Within the report was the issue of recruitment of social workers and it was recognised that recruitment was also a concern in other areas of the council. The increase in working from home arrangements might help to increase recruitment rates but it remained an issue for the authority. It was proposed that a working group of members look into the issue of recruitment in the county across all directorates at the council. The ADCSQ&I explained that he was working with a team to investigate recruitment and would welcome input from members. Three recruitment and retention summits had taken place and it was acknowledged that improvements were required to processes to develop recruitment campaigns. Work had been required to define the core offer which had been condensed onto a single sheet of paper and was now felt to be a strong offer. Herefordshire ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To review the attached work programme for 2020/21.
The committee considered its work programme report. The report included changes to work programme since the previous meeting of the committee, the executive response to the recommendations of child exploitation task and finish group and the recommendation tracker.
The points below were raised in the discussion that followed:
· Arrangements for the scrutiny work programming session were raised and how members of the public could contribute potential topics for scrutiny. It was requested that a covid-19 joint scrutiny working group be considered at the session and that invitations were extended to portfolio holders. The statutory scrutiny officer explained that members of the public had the opportunity to provide topics for scrutiny through the ‘get involved’ part of the website and stakeholders would be invited to the work programming session to help inform scrutiny work programmes. Portfolio holders were welcome to attend to raise items they thought were appropriate for the scrutiny committee work programmes. It was confirmed that the notion of joint scrutiny relating to covid-19 had been raised by the other scrutiny committees.
· It was noted that the deadlines for the completion of actions in the executive response to the recommendation from the child exploitation task and finish group were close and an update was requested on progress made and if the timeframes had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In particular there should be an update on arrangements for the annual summit for child exploitation to include a focus on modern day slavery. The DCF explained that an update would be sought for presentation to the next meeting of the committee.
Councillor Paul Andrews proposed and Councillor Kath Hey seconded the work programme recommendations. The recommendations were carried, Councillor Diana Toynbee was unable to vote as she had lost connection with the meeting.
RESOLVED – That the committee:
(a) reviews the 2020/21 work programme at appendix a and any additional items of business or topics for inclusion in the work programme;
(b) agrees the changes to the work programme itemised in paragraph 3 of the report and the allocation of an update on the child exploitation task and finish group recommendations to the meeting of the committee on 1 December;
(c) receives and notes the executive response (appendix b) to the recommendations arising from the child exploitation task and finish group; and
(d) notes the recommendation tracker in appendix c.
There was a brief adjournment at 3.06 p.m. The meeting reconvened at 3.13 p.m.
To provide the outcome of the review (including lessons learned) into cases of peer on peer abuse referred to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
The committee considered a report by the assistant director education, development and skills (ADED&S) which provided the outcomes of the review of peer on peer abuse cases. The ADED&S introduced the report and raised the points below:
· The report was originally requested around the previous Christmas and initially shared with the committee in June. That report had been interpreted wrongly as a brief statistical analysis over a defined time period and there was an apology to the committee and families for this mistake.
· The timeframe for the review was precisely prescribed and details were drawn from Mosaic for an analysis of cases from two distinct periods of time. The timeframes were January 2017 – October 2018 and November 2018 – November 2019 which were selected to reflect changes in national guidance around peer on peer sexual abuse during those periods. Over 300 cases were analysed for the time periods resulting in 28 cases concerning peer on peer abuse.
· There were apologies for the delay to the presentation of the report which was partially due to the flooding earlier in the year and the covid-19 pandemic but also the misjudged report taken to the meeting in June.
· The report proposed 11 recommendations which exceeded the terms of reference of the report but were intended as next steps for the council. The recommendations were an outcome of the findings and research undertaken to write the second report.
· There was also a section in the report outlining what the council has done as a consequence of the review and what could have been done differently.
· The report covers the cases from Mosaic from the defined periods and it is acknowledged that some of the record keeping from the earlier stages of the review period was incomplete or imperfect. There has been an improvement in recording since this time.
· Schools were contacted to ask what they did or didn’t do in respect of cases.
· No families or children were contacted as part of the review.
· The report sought to avoid causing harm or identifying any individuals involved in cases which was a challenge when outlining cases with specific and complex details in the published appendices.
· The seriousness and severity of the impact of the issue on families was understood and it is regarded as a high priority. The report was complete but the recommendations were proposed and yet to be finalised.
The Leader of the Council explained that following the scrutiny committee on 25 November 2019 he had a conversation with a member of the public concerning what assurances the council could provide over its handling of peer on peer abuse cases. The Leader felt that assurance could not be provided without an investigation of historic cases and therefore commissioned the review; other approaches to understanding peer on peer abuse cases or seeking assurance may not have included a review of cases but the logic of this was not understood.
The Chairperson of the committee explained that the peer on peer abuse ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Date of next meeting
The next meeting of the children and young people scrutiny committee will be held on 1 December 2020.
The date of the next meeting was 1 December 2020 at 1.00 p.m.