Presented by Alan Cotgrove, the report informed the Committee that the current requirements of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards would be dissolved and new safeguarding arrangements would need to be put in place to meet statutory requirements. For Thurrock, a new partnership would be formed consisting of 3 strategic partners which would be Thurrock Council, Essex Police and Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group. This new arrangement would be known as Thurrock Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (LSCP) which would come into effect on 7 May 2019. Updates on the new partnership would be brought back to the Committee.
Commenting that the changes appeared to be structural, Councillor Hague sought clarification on what the main operational changes would be and the benefits. Alan Cotgrove explained the operational changes would benefit the outcomes of the LSCB and auditing would help on quality assurance. Part of the reasons for the change to LSCBs was because some across the country had required improvement. Thurrock’s new LSCP would have a business plan in place around safeguarding and there would be scrutiny taking place on the work of the partnership.
The Chair queried on what the changes were in the management of the structure. In answer, Alan Cotgrove said the current arrangement safeguarding arrangements focused on the local authority. With the change, the focus would be on the three partnerships and each one would have equal footing. All three were accountable to their relative inspecting authorities: Care Quality Commission, the police, Committees etc. A business support team would remain in place to support the new partnership.
Paula Robinson, Parent Governor Representative, sought clarification on whether the business support team was part of Thurrock Council. Confirming this was the case, Alan Cotgrove went on to say the LSCB received an annual contribution from the local authority and once distributed, the responsibilities would remain the same. Over the coming year, the new safeguarding arrangements would be reviewed.
On the three partners, Lynda Pritchard questioned who the boss would be and if LSCB were confident that the partnership would run smoothly. Giving reassurance, Alan Cotgrove stated the current LSCB was successful and achieved good outcomes for young people. Over the coming year, with the new safeguarding arrangements, chairing of the boards would be chaired by different groups and all three partners would agree collectively on plans going forward. The partnership was an ‘even blend’ and there would be no one group leading another.
In the event of a conflict of interest, Councillor Akinbohun questioned what the solution would be and also who would have the power to dissolve the partnership. Alan Cotgrove explained there would be a consensus on the decisions to be made. If issues were to arise, investigation would be undertaken by an independent review board.
The Chair sought clarification that an update on the new arrangements would be brought back to Committee which Alan Cotgrove confirmed. Adding to this, Rory Patterson, Corporate Director of Children’s Services, explained the Committee would continue to have a role in safeguarding arrangements and scrutiny was expected on the new LSCP. The three partners would need to work together to ensure good safeguarding arrangements and Thurrock Council was well invested in this. Safeguarding was dynamic so it was important for the service to continue to develop and improve as time went on. Strategic approaches had to be adapted with time and opportunities to engage with the local community on safeguarding issues had to be sought to enable the service to influence and shape safeguarding in a meaningful way.
With regards to Ofsted requirements, the Chair asked if the other partners would be inspected. Rory Patterson explained Ofsted would look at children’s social care but not the safeguarding arrangements with the partners although there may be some commentary featured on the partnership. The Chair went on to ask if this meant the service had gained more responsibility. Answering that there was always a lot of responsibility in children’s social care, Rory Patterson went on to say developments were always required in safeguarding. Judgements on safeguarding in past Ofsted inspections may have worked in one year but may not necessarily work in the next year, hence the requirement to continually develop.
That the Childrens Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered and provided comment on the new safeguarding arrangements.