Agenda item

Multiagency Arrangements for Safeguarding Children in Brent

To note the new statutory Children’s Safeguarding Arrangements that came into effect as of 21 September 2019.


Councillor Mili Patel (Lead Member for Children's Safeguarding) introduced the report to the new Multiagency arrangements for safeguarding children in Brent. She drew the committee’s attention to section 3.5, which detailed the membership of the new arrangements and the appendix of the report, which included details of the full arrangements. She also drew the committee’s attention to section 4 of the report detailing financial implications, which included information regarding how much funding each partner was contributing.


Gail Tolley (Strategic Director Children & Young People) added that the arrangements were being delivered due to statute and were written with the view of continuity. They were ministerially approved for implementation in June. Meetings were underway with rotating locations. She confirmed that a different statutory partner set the agenda for each meeting, and that the independent convenor of the Safeguarding forum attended those meetings, which provided a direct link between the forum and the multiagency partners.


Barry Loader (Detective Superintendent, Head of Safeguarding, North West Basic Command Unit) echoed Gail Tolley, and felt that the relationships within the new arrangements were strong. He told the committee that policing had changed to a basic command unit where they locally managed child abuse investigations, serious sexual offenses and domestic abuse under one umbrella. He added that there were new crime types that as partners they did not yet fully understand, so it was an emerging area of business where the arrangements would develop as more was understood.


The Chair thanked the presenting officers for their updates, and invited the committee to ask questions. The following points were raised:


·         In response to queries regarding the balance of funding, Gail Tolley confirmed that Brent Council were making the largest contribution, and highlighted that this was normal for shared partnerships of this type. She felt that the funding of £5,000 from the Metropolitan police was an issue, and had been told it was unlikely to increase under the current constraints. Gail Tolley highlighted that during meetings they had conversations as equal partners, but if one were to look at the funding, the Council would be viewed as the lead partner. She also stated that Ofsted would view the Council as the lead partner due to its statutory responsibilities. Barry Loader shared Gail Tolley’s frustration with the funding, and confirmed that the Chief Operating Commissioner was lobbying MOPAC to increase the funding arrangements.


·         Further clarification regarding the figures quoted in section 4.1 of the report was given. Mike Howard (Independent Chair, Brent LSCB) explained that the figures only included the contribution of the 3 statutory partners, and the contributions from other partners was mentioned in section 4.2. Gail Tolley explained that the figures represented the 12-month cash equivalent that would go to the partnership arrangements from each contributor, and that the government had identified the key health contributor as the CCG, in comparison to previous arrangements where other health providers also gave cash contributions.


·         In response to how the executive group would hold the safeguarding forum to account, Gail Tolley responded that a standing item on every agenda would be the Safeguarding Forum, where the Independent Convenor would report on the work of the forum and receive challenge.


·         With regard to how the sharing of information between partner agencies would be managed and how priorities would be set, Gail Tolley told the committee that priorities would not be set in isolation of the Safeguarding Forum. She explained that there would be a representative from each of the partners on the Safeguarding Forum to allow cross-discussion of priorities, which could then be escalated up.


·         Gail Tolley explained that Mike Howard would finish his role as independent Convener in May due to a strong recommendation from the DfE that, as a result of strong relationships built, there was a risk independence could be compromised. Gail Tolley added that safeguarding was a heavily inspected area of the council with the next major inspection due in 2021, therefore felt that a new post holder should be sought with sufficient time to allow for them to gain the knowledge necessary to ensure safeguarding would be operating effectively.


·         Regarding the role of independent scrutineer, Gail Tolley confirmed that Mike Howard held the role currently, as the element of legislation relating to the role was not nationally being pursued. The situation was being monitored by PAN London, as well as senior police and Chief Execs.


As no further questions were raised, the Chair invited the committee to make recommendations. The committee subsequently RESOLVED:


i)             To note the report.


Supporting documents: