Agenda item

Annual Independent Reviewing Officers Report

To receive the Annual Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) Report for 2020-21.


The Interim Assistant Director - Quality Assurance, Safeguarding and Partnerships introduced the report the purpose of which was for the Committee to consider the Annual Independent Reviewing Officers’ (IRO) Report for 2020-21.


During discussion the following principal points were noted:


·         Previously IRO officers had a double hatted role and were also Child Protection Conference Chairs. Due to increased demand on the service, these two roles had now been separated.

·         IRO roles were being re-evaluated as, historically and in comparison with other areas, the Herefordshire IRO role was not at a high enough grade and status given that the regulations required IROs to have at least five years qualified Social Work experience and be an authoritative professional.

·         The report highlighted that there continued to be barriers for children and young people accessing Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The Council would look at alternative solutions to meet needs but would also hold its partners accountable to push for the support that Looked After Children needed. Covid had impacted demand on the service and it was suggested that the wider issue of all children and young people accessing CAMHS be scheduled as a work plan item.

·         The IRO report for 2022 would include some comparator data and also, as this data was now available, the impact of the service on children.

·         There were currently no backlog of cases but the IRO caseload of 70 was at the top end of average. Extra resource would be put in if needed.

·         The IRO Annual Report was taken to the Safeguarding Partnership Group but had not in the past been tabled as a Scrutiny agenda item. Members had requested, during their work planning, that the IRO report be one of several annual reports to be considered by the Committee each municipal year, and this year’s report would be a clear benchmark with which to monitor ongoing progress.

·         If the need for extra resource became apparent between the annual reporting cycles then the service would not wait to take action.

·         The IRO team had sought independent legal counsel on behalf of the child on two occasions in order to clarify a situation and help get the correct plan for the child put in place.

·         Caseloads for IROs were adjusted to take account of differing working patterns and hours.


The following recommendations were proposed and seconded and carried unanimously.




Having reviewed the Independent Reviewing Officer’s Report for 2020/21 the Committee recommended that:


a)    The Committee receive the IRO Report as an annual agenda item.

b)    The next iteration of the report should include comparator data with statistical neighbours where this was available.

c)    A workshop be arranged with the participatory officer on how to include the voice of the child in future meetings.

d)    Health partners be asked to attend a future meeting of the Committee to discuss barriers for children and young people accessing CAMHS or other therapeutic support and counselling.

e)    An update on progress be provided to the Committee in six months’ time.

f)     The update report to be provided on children’s legal services include information on legal support for the IRO service.




1.    That the IRO handbook be circulated to all members of the Committee for information.

Supporting documents: