Sheila Murphy presented the report on behalf of Jane Foster-Taylor (Thurrock Local Safeguarding Partnership). The report, which can be found on pages 17 – 56, was not a report of the Council’s but was a report from the Thurrock Local Safeguarding Partnership.
The Chair was pleased to see the learning outcomes from the serious case review. He queried whether a review process was in place to check that the actions and meetings for information sharing were productive. Referring to appendix 2 of the report, Sheila Murphy said that a lead was assigned to each action point and through the LSCP, there was a Learning and Practice Review Group that met regularly with all the agencies and action points were reviewed and reported back to the Management Executive Board of the LSCP which looked at delivery of the action points. There was also the strategic group of the LSCP and if there were issues with delivery, it would be picked up there.
Referring to page 50, paragraph 118, the Chair queried what the service was doing to ensure children’s voices were heard. Sheila Murphy answered that children were heard individually through their social workers and for children known to the service, there were Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and Child Protection Officers (CPOs) who met with the children to hear their views. There were also separate services that looked into engagement and participations with children and the Council had a good team that were very active in listening to the children and feeding back to the service. The inspection from Ofsted last year had commented that the service was strong in listening to children and young people and taking action on these.
Councillor Okunade felt sad to hear of the unfortunate death of a child. She noted certain points of interventions within the review and questioned whether the service needed to review their thresholds and interventions at different thresholds. Sheila Murphy said that the case highlighted practice from 6 years ago and Kyle had been subjected to interim care orders when he was born which was one of the highest levels of interventions in the service’s thresholds as well as to child protection, children in need and the early help offer. Families usually moved through the thresholds and it was a question of when more serious action was needed where children would be removed from their families. In this case, each involved agency had felt at different times that the family had been improving so had moved through thresholds. Before the death of Sam, the family had been referred back to the statutory intervention of Children’s Social Care services where an assessment had begun.
Councillor Okunade queried what influence the Children’s Social Care had over GP surgeries and information sharing between them. Sheila Murphy said that the Council worked well with their partner agencies on care plans and there was a process of review in place with IROs and Independent CPOs. Through the LSCP and Brighter Futures Partnership, the agencies had meetings to review the services they had in place and working together. There were clear procedures and policies in place and there was a strong partnership in Thurrock. To ensure services were effective, this was measured through feedback from children and young people and their families to identify any other services that they wished to see.
Councillor Muldowney noted that the action plan had picked up on the learning outcomes from the agencies working together and asked to see the process for the action plan and other updates to be brought back to Committee at a later date to which the Chair agreed. Referring to page 49, paragraph 117, she felt this highlighted the sadness of the situation and questioned what actions would be in place to ensure a similar situation did not occur again where there had been three critical points to intervene to get the provision right but did not happen for different reasons. Sheila Murphy answered that the paragraph highlighted the reason for serious case reviews and that the practice referred to was back in 2015/16. The report highlighted the improvements made to the service since then which had improved the issues that had been raised. These included Signs of Safety which had a graded care profile that also included neglect concerns in families and training was provided for this. The Prevention and Support Service had been remodelled since 2016 and the service had ensured more social work qualified managers to check on thresholds. Ofsted had noted the remodelling of the past service and was positive about it. An independent regulator had looked at the services in 2019 and seen evidence of improvements including the additional resources that had been implemented into the service between 2017 and 2019.
Councillor Muldowney sought more details on the recommendation that the Thurrock LSCP had considered the audit of the prevention and support service programme. Joe Tynan explained that the audit group was running independent audits in the Thurrock LSCP and the service was also undertaking quality assurance sampling regularly to test the practice. The feedback from these had been positive and showed consistency and these audits would continue.
That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee accepted the recommendations of the Serious Case Review and the resulting Action Plan.