To consider the report of the Director of Children and Families following the adoption of a White Paper Motion, as agreed at the meeting of Full Council on 22 March 2023 regarding Children’s Safeguarding.
The Director of Children and Families submitted a report following a White Paper Motion resolution of Full Council at its meeting on 22nd March 2023 regarding the issue of Children’s Safeguarding (Minute No. 99, meeting of Full Council, 22 March 2023 refers).
In introducing the report, the Executive Member highlighted key points arising from it, together with the cross-party approach which had been taken during the compilation of the report via a recent meeting with Political Group Leaders and given the report’s recommendation for the Council to issue a cross-party letter to Government.
Responding to questions from Members, the Board was provided with further detail on the following:-
· The learning which had been undertaken and the effective procedures established to ensure that appropriate notification procedures were in place in the event of a serious safeguarding incident;
· The robustness of the referral process in place to the Review Advisory Group, and the actions being taken to ensure that the correct culture was being embedded so that colleagues felt able to escalate a matter at the appropriate time; with a Member seeking further information on the number of referrals which had been made and the source of those referrals;
· The level of notifications regarding serious safeguarding incidents in Leeds, when compared to other Authorities, and how such matters were being monitored;
· Emphasis was placed upon the commitment to openness and transparency in relation to safeguarding matters, but with the acknowledgement that the welfare of any children involved would always take priority;
· In discussing the Local Authority’s legal responsibility regarding the reporting of serious incidents and responding to a Member’s question and comments about the relevant processes established in Leeds, the Board discussed the current position in Leeds and the partnership approach being taken. Also, given the complex nature of this area, strong partnership working alongside the embedding of learning were highlighted as key factors in ensuring that such processes remained effective. It was also emphasised that consideration of such matters would continue.
(a) That the work the Council is undertaking to safeguard children where they may be linked to persons posing risk of sexual harm, in the circumstances as set out within the submitted report, be noted and endorsed;
(b) That it be noted and endorsed that the Council upholds and enacts the principles of openness and transparency for independent and democratic scrutiny of children’s safeguarding;
(c) That it be noted and endorsed that the Council is committed to continuing the current model of independent oversight, by having a role of Independent Scrutineer;
(d) That agreement be given for a cross-party letter to be sent to central Government, addressed to the newly established Child Protection Ministerial Group, and in view of the issues raised by the submitted report and the learning from Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews, this letter will request a review of legislation and statutory guidance, in order to identify improvements and/or amendments to legislation; in particular those that will strengthen the voice of the child and the child’s need and right to know about their individual circumstances. This letter will also highlight the multiple use of different assessment risk tools, across agencies, and request a review into these, and whether a more standard approach could be adopted.