Councillor Susan Southworth, the Chair of the Safeguarding Overview Project Group will give an update at the meeting.
Councillor Susan Southworth, Chair of the Children’s Safeguarding Overview Project Group attended the meeting to update the Committee on the work of the project group.
It was explained that the group had been established to review services available to Bury residents to ensure that those services were meeting the needs and requirements of their users and future users.
The group was made up of a number of Councillors who each had their own knowledge in relation to safeguarding from being ex police, teacher or school governors and working first had in children’s services.
During the 2017/2018 Municipal Year the focus of the group included the following:-
· Phoenix Team and Child Sexual Exploitation – Receive briefing on the work of the team across Greater Manchester with focus on the awareness raising work undertaken and areas of concern within the Borough.
· Healthy Young Minds and SEND update – Karen Whitehead attended the meeting to provide an update on the Healthy Young Minds safeguarding process.
· The Role of the LADO – Mark Gay, the LADO attended the meeting to share with members a presentation on the role and responsibility of the LADO.
· Performance Monitoring – the group continued to receive quarterly monitoring reports in relation to safeguarding children.
· Children with Disabilities – Examination of the support and early intervention provided by the team.
· Placements with Children and their Relatives – Officers attended the meeting to provide an update on the numbers and frequency of placements of looked after children with their relatives.
· Missing from Home – the group were provided with an update on the work being undertaken to address those children reported Missing from Home.
It was explained that the group had met on four occasions, interviewed 14 different Council Officers and had planned to visit the Multi Agency hub as part of its ongoing work.
Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were given the opportunity to make comments and ask questions and the following points were raised.
· Councillor Caserta referred to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which had been held on 6 February 2018 where Karen Dolton had attended. He explained that the Committee had been given the answers to the questions that had been raised in the Newsam Report but the actual questions were not available due to the report being redacted. Councillor Caserta had asked if he could have a copy of the questions but these had not been provided.
Councillor Southworth explained that the Overview Project Group were due to have their next meeting later in the month and she would raise this issue there.
· Councillor Harris referred to the conclusions set out at point 5 of the report and asked whether Councillor Southworth was satisfied that procedures are in place.
Councillor Southworth explained that the members of the group had been interviewed as part of the Ofsted review and it had been recognised that clear political scrutiny was evident and that there were strong sufficient checks and balances in the governance system holding the leadership of children’s services to account, providing coherent political and strategic oversight.
· Councillor Smith referred to the reference made to attendance at the meetings and asked if this had improved.
Councillor Southworth reported that attendance hadn’t been as high as it should have been over the year. There had been two new Members appointed to the group so this would improve. The group meets four times per year and the meetings commence at 5pm and last for two hours.
· Councillor Caserta referred to 4.1 of the report and the statement that referrals to the phoenix team had reduced over the summer. Councillor Caserta explained that he had been shocked to read the report in the Manchester Evening News relating to arrests made following an investigation into CSE in two of Bury’s parks over the summer.
Councillor Caserta asked why the information provided to the group by the Phoenix Team had not included reference to the investigation reported in the M.E.N.
Councillor Southworth referred to the work of the group and the fact that Councillor Caserta was a member of the group and asked if the questions of the group needed to be more incisive. She stated that the group were meeting soon and would have the opportunity to ask questions around the investigation.
Councillor Walker explained that the political groups had been briefed on the situation at their group meetings. He also suggested that as it was an ongoing investigation they the details should not be discussed.
Councillor Harris suggested that the situation should definitely be pursued further by the Overview Project Group at their next meeting.
It was agreed:
1. That the work of the Overview Project Group be carried over into the new Municipal Year.
2. That the Membership of the Group be included within the Annual Appointments report of the Council as an ongoing Committee.
3. That regular updates be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the work of the Group.
4. That the Group, in consultation with the Assistant Director of Learning and Culture examine the feasibility of establishing a Borough wide “Closing the Gap” Group in respect of Educational Achievement (carried forward from last year).