To submit a report by the Director of Social Services.
Submitted – the Corporate Safeguarding Annual Report – November 2021/2022.
The Director of Social Services highlighted that this Annual Report is a corporate arrangements safeguarding report which describes the progress made and how embedded safeguarding is within all aspects of council services, functions and duties. He reported that the Authority has established a Strategic and Operational Corporate Safeguarding Boards which has a robust agenda in place which includes important data which is shared with the Boards. He noted that each service has an identified Safeguarding Champion which is a source of advice on all safeguarding matters for other staff within their service and ensuring compliance with the Corporate Safeguarding Policy.
The Service Manager (Safeguarding) reported that the governance structures are in place to ensure that the legal duties are carried out, and that the Authority’s approach to safeguarding is delivered. The Local Authority must ensure that all employees and volunteers understand their roles and responsibilities for safeguarding and are aware that this includes reporting concerns about children and adults they encounter. She further said that this year the Prevent and Channel has been included within the Council’s Constitution. A list of Statutory and Appropriate Officers sets out who leads on Prevent and Channel was included in the report. She noted that Wales National Safeguarding Training Standards is structured into groups, defining the responsibilities associated with different employee, executive or leadership roles. A key action, reflected in the action plan, is to map the workforce to the various groups and to plan training delivery. This is an opportunity to map the workforce training requirements in terms of Prevent and Modern Slavery at the same time. The Service Manager referred to the effective support and interventions as noted in the report for the responding to safeguarding concerns about those whose work, either in paid or voluntary capacity, which brings them in contact with children or adults at risk. A list of allegations made against council employees/volunteers who work with children or adults with care and support needs were listed within the report.
Reference was made to the effective practice in Councils as regards to procurement provision when commissioning services. The Authority has published an Advice Note on Safeguarding and Procurement and Contract Management which helps services to ensure that services delivered by partners are safe and promote safeguarding. Each service are responsible for their own Procurement and Contract Management arrangements and decision on how to apply the provisions of the Advice Note lies with each individual service.
The Committee considered the report and raised the following main points:-
· Questions raised as how the Council ensures that safe practice in commissioning services is ensured and that all providers who act on behalf of the Council exercise their safeguarding responsibilities effectively. The Director of Social Services responded that the required arrangements are put in place as regards to ensuring that all providers exercise their safeguarding responsibilities. The Service Manager also responded that the Advice Note on Safeguarding and Procurement and Contract Management helps to ensure services are delivered by partners are safe and promote safeguarding. When contracts are set, monitoring and reviewing processes are undertaken to ensure robust safeguarding procedures are in place;
· Questions raised as to what extent is there evidence that robust corporate procedures are in place and that they are implemented consistently. The Director of Social Services responded that there is an Operation Plan in place as is set out in the attachment to the report. He noted that any issues arise when departments needs support with regard to safeguarding issues, the maters can be brought to the attention of the Operational Corporate Safeguarding Board to strengthen the corporate arrangements and to support staff who work with children and adults;
· Reference was made as to whether there are resources in place for delivering the Work Plan. The Director of Social Services responded that the resource is the workforce that deal with safeguarding issues. He noted that the expertise varies from each department with the Social Services and Education Service having more expertise in safeguarding due to the nature of their work. However, he emphasised that each individual within the Council has safeguarding responsibilities;
· Questions raised as to the progress being made against the work plan. The Director of Social Services responded that the Work Plan is reviewed on a regular basis and he reports to the Corporate Safeguarding Board on any issues that are not moving forward as expected;
· Reference was made to the list of allegations against council employees/ volunteers who work with children and adults with care and support needs as noted in the report. Questions were raised as to how the Authority is addressing these allegations and whether lessons have been learnt as to the recruitment procedure. The Service Manager responded that there was no problems highlighted with the recruitment process with regards to the allegations made against certain individuals highlighted within the report. She noted that training and supporting individuals in their roles needs to be more robust and these issues are reported to the Regional Safeguarding Board. The Committee referred that there also needs to be support the individuals when allegations against them are not substantiated. The Service Manager responded that Wales Safeguarding Procedures 2019 highlights different investigations in terms of child protection and adults at risk. She noted that it is challenging period for the individuals that have allegations against them together with the people that have made the allegations; the investigation process need to be addressed as soon as is practical. The Director of Social Services said that there are clear procedures in place with the Authority’s employees having access to the Counselling process through MEDRA. He noted that each specific case must be reviewed and monitored and to look upon the case from both perspective and how those individuals can be supported.
It was RESOLVED to accept the report and the Work Plan for Corporate Safeguarding arrangements.
ACTION : As noted above.