Contextual Safeguarding Update
To further update the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on progress of the implmentation of contextual safeguarding in Brent and the partnership response.
Councillor Mili Patel (Lead Member Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care) introduced the report which provided an update on the development of contextual safeguarding in Brent arising from a task group report by the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee agreed by the Committee in March 2019. She advised that the report showed how contextual safeguarding was now embedded in the work done around safeguarding and young people, and noted the section on the impact of COVID-19 due to the fact contextual safeguarding related to safeguarding outside of the young person’s familial area. As a result of the lockdown some of the complex issues that young people might usually face were reduced.
The Chair thanked Councillor Patel for her introduction and invited comments and questions from the Committee, with the following issues raised:
In relation to the progress of the recommendations, Councillor Patel advised that there were restrictions due to the pandemic which meant some recommendations had not progressed but were ready to be actioned as soon as restrictions lifted, such as the TFL and school travel planning recommendation.
The Committee queried whether the growing use of digital technology by young people had an impact on contextual safeguarding. Gail Tolley advised that whilst there were links to digital behaviours, contextual safeguarding related to significant safeguarding issues that took place outside of the home. Sonya Kalyniak (Head of Safeguarding & Quality Assurance, Brent Council) acknowledged there was a risk to young people using technology especially when young people were groomed into exploitative behaviour, and that the safeguarding team were working with schools around improving digital safeguarding for children and young people.
The Committee highlighted section 3.7 of the report which detailed the increase in the number of young people going missing regularly. Gail Tolley agreed that it gave a sense of the vulnerability of those young people and the complexity of cases social workers were carrying. Sonya Kalyniak advised that this was monitored carefully throughout the lockdown and the trend of extremely vulnerable young people continuing to go missing led to the service conducting comprehensive vulnerable adolescent risk assessments for each of those young people to understand very clearly what the risks were and put individual safety plans in place for them.
The Committee asked what level of confidence the Committee should have that Brent Officers had effective working relationships with health colleagues. Councillor Mohammed Butt (Leader, Brent Council) highlighted that all Brent Officers would ensure due diligence was carried out at all levels, and that as a matter of process Officers worked with partners, colleagues, stakeholders and neighbouring Boroughs to share and collaborate. He added that the Council of the Year, which Brent Council had been awarded in 2020 by the LGC, stated that a Council would achieve that status because it exemplifies the best standards and levels of oversight.
In relation to contextual safeguarding work being done pan London which could assist Brent, Councillor Mohammed Butt (Leader, Brent Council) advised that each Borough was working within its own boundaries but that the sharing of information and data would take place between the Children and Young People Directors. Nigel Chapman (Operational Director for Integration and Improved Outcomes, Brent Council) highlighted the Rescue and Response Programme which was a pan London response to issues of county lines. The programme was funded to help all London Boroughs support young people at risk of gang exploitation. A bid to the Violence Reduction Unit for a project called “My Ends” had also been submitted, supported by the Council, which would provide funding for some micro community based support projects for young people most at risk, using street based interventions. Councillor McLennan advised that by working with a pan London approach she was looking at how to get additional funding for children’s services particularly the offers that children’s services were providing that were not being funded. She was also a member of the London Council’s Grants Committee which was looking at funding projects pan London regarding digital exclusion and poverty amongst young people.
The Chair drew the item to a close and led a round of applause for Children and Young People colleagues.