Safeguarding children in Barnsley

Annual report 2020/21

The Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership is responsible for bringing local services together to plan and agree how best to keep children and young people in the area safe.

The Partnership develops shared policies and plans to protect vulnerable children. Their role is to make sure all children are well cared for and able to reach their full potential. They also provide support and training for people who work with children and young people, to make sure that they are fully aware of their safeguarding responsibilities.

Welcome

Foreword from the Independent Chair

Welcome to the annual report of the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership.

Safeguarding children is at any time complex and challenging work often involving difficult decision making in challenging circumstances. The year covered by this report has seen agencies having to face circumstances not previously encountered as they responded to the COVID 19 pandemic.

I have been impressed by the commitment that agencies have shown to keeping oversight of those children that were already known to services. They put in place additional arrangements to support children and their families; keeping contact with the most vulnerable when they were more isolated due to the restrictions.

Agencies have, understandably, been concerned for those children suffering hidden harm; that is those children who were not previously known to services but now suffering harm that is not being seen due to children not being out in the community or attending school (more detail is provided on page 4). When lockdowns have ended there has been an increase in the number of concerns being received and the number of children in care has risen. I regard that increase as an indication that agencies have responded to concerns and acted in the best interest of the children concerned.

Throughout the pandemic the partnership, and its subgroups, has continued to meet albeit by video conferencing. That has allowed the partnership to keep informed of the work taking place. Similarly, the three Safeguarding Partners have continued to meet to oversee the partnership arrangements. As the governance group develops it will no doubt give greater focus to the priorities of the BSCP moving forward.

During the second half of the year, the support arrangements for the partnership were compromised by not having a person performing the role of the Partnership Manager. I am grateful to those who have taken on additional responsibilities that has allowed the partnership to continue to function and taken on work over and above their own roles, including preparing this annual report. I am sure that recruitment of a replacement manager will see support arrangements being back to normal.

The report details the work of the partnership during 2022-21. Readers will see that an issue of concern is the number of deaths of very young babies due to Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI). Five such deaths occurred in 2020, each of them a tragedy. Two of those deaths are the subject of Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews to ensure that we learn any lessons from those sad events. Much has been done to raise public awareness of the need to ensure that safe sleeping practices are always in place. BSCP continues to regard this as a priority with the aim of reducing the number of such deaths, we will continue to ensure that all new parents receive the appropriate advice and to raise public awareness.

Members of the public play an important role in being the eyes in the community that can report any concerns regarding the safety and welfare of any child. Details of how to report any concerns you may have about a child are shown on page 18. Please remember, Safeguarding is Everyone’s Business.

Bob Dyson QPM,DL
Independent Chair - Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership

Introduction - Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance

The past year March 2020 to March 2021 was marked by unprecedented challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the series of national lockdowns which impacted upon all agencies and staff working with children and families, service delivery and on the wellbeing and safety of many children and families. There were increased concerns about “Hidden Harm” for vulnerable children and young people with reduced schools’ attendance and contact with professionals, as well as frequent disruption to children’s education with the concern about how this might impact upon their outcomes. We know from a survey undertaken in Barnsley by Public Health that young people reported much higher rates of anxiety and mental health concerns during the pandemic because of isolation from peers and the change to their routines. Children’s social care and South Yorkshire police reported increased referrals, particularly in relation to incidents of domestic abuse and neglect during the past year and all agencies experienced staffing and resource pressures during the pandemic. National reviews undertaken in the past year by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel and by Ofsted have highlighted the impact upon children and young people of the pandemic, which makes effective partnership working even more important to safeguarding.

Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership has a strong commitment to protecting and promoting the welfare of all children and young people in Barnsley and this commitment was strengthened during early stages of the pandemic with a combined effort across the partnership to work together to support vulnerable children. Agencies came together to develop tracker system to identify and support vulnerable children and families, working with schools and across health and children’s social care and Early Help to ensure that children in need were seen and had regular contact with professionals.

The Partnership has continued to work closely with Barnsley schools to offer support and advice during the pandemic and has continued termly Forums with all Designated Safeguarding Leads to promote safeguarding training, information sharing and the exchange of best practice.

The Partnership continued with its regular activity, with staff working from home and adapted to virtual Partnership and subgroup meetings. Quality assurance activity has continued, with all subgroups completing quarterly audits and the multi-agency training programme has also continued, with an expanded virtual offer which has seen higher take up rates.

The Partnership has also come together with the Executive Group of the Children’s Trust to host special learning events in relation to recognising and managing risk for adolescents and transitional safeguarding issues for young adults as they move on from children’s services support. This has led to a new initiative of joint working with the Adults Safeguarding Board and the introduction of the Directions Panel, which meets regularly with multi-agency partners to plan and work together to better meet the needs of vulnerable youngsters aged 16 years and over. Going forward, this work will help to reduce risk and crisis for young people and help them to be better prepared for adulthood.

In early 2021, the Partnership Manager retired from his position after many years in the role and the Partnership are grateful to him for his contribution to the work of the BSCP and to safeguarding children and young people in Barnsley. During the past year the Partnership has considered further how to strengthen scrutiny of safeguarding arrangements and has agreed to appoint an Independent Scrutineer in 2021. Looking forward to 2021-22, the Partnership will carefully consider the recommendations of Sir Alan Wood’s review of local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, published in May 2021 to develop our arrangements to ensure they continue to be effective and robust, helping to deliver the best outcomes for children and young people in Barnsley.

Di Drury
Head of Service, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance

The role of the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership

  • Ensure that safeguarding children and young people is at the centre of everything we do
  • Hold Partnership members to account – are we/they doing enough to keep children and young people safe?
  • Collect and share information about how well we are keeping children and young people safe and what more we could do

We have created a ‘Plan on a Page’ which sets out:

  • The Responsibilities of the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership
  • The Role of the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership
  • The Structure of the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership
  • It also outlines our Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priority 1 Sharing and Engaging

  • The Partnership will continue to monitor service improvement through the Continuous Service Improvement Plan and a schedule of regular audit activity
  • The Partnership will continue to seek the views of children and young people
  • Safeguarding Awareness Week provides an opportunity for the partnership and community to come together with the message “Safeguarding is Everybody’s Business“

Strategic Priority 2 Helping, Empowering, Supporting

  • Ensure the availability of quality multiagency child protection training and the provision of quality safeguarding services
  • Supporting children and young people to have a voice
  • Help shape services and support best practice via the Designated Safeguarding Leads and other Forums
  • Ensure accessibility of information via the website and other resources

Strategic Priority 3 Prevention

  • The synergy obtained from strong partnership working remains an essential element of effective safeguarding
  • The continuing effectiveness of the work of the Partnership will continue to be subject to scrutiny
  • Ensure partners are kept up to date with emerging themes and key messages
  • Support learning and development through Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews and Lessons Learned

Strategic Priority 4 Accountability

  • Continue to ensure that the thresholds are understood and correctly applied by partner agency staff and that effective use is made of the escalation process in cases where there are concerns about the decision making
  • The Partnership will continue to strengthen and evidence its own effectiveness through rigorous challenge, participation and engagement

This is what we will do

  • Let people know how to get help or report harm
  • Design and deliver effective training for all staff and volunteers
  • Provide children and young people and their families who have been harmed with support and information
  • Work across the Partnership understand and address the impact of Covid-19 in communities to identify and respond to Hidden Harm for children and young people
  • Evaluate children and young people’s views of safeguarding and demonstrate if we have helped them to reduce risk
  • Carry out Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews to improve the way we keep children safe. The National Panel is very clear that is only sees one type of review LCSPR’s.
  • Continue to provide Performance Information to the Board to assure the Board that we are working together to prevent harm
  • Regularly challenge processes and performance at Board level to show all organisations are being held to account for the safety of children in Barnsley
  • Strengthen the role of independent scrutiny of Partnership Arrangements
  • Identify any gaps for young people moving from children’s to adult services that may leave them at risk of harm
  • Ensure synergy and a joint response to shared themes such as Contextual Safeguarding including CSE and Child Exploitation / Modern Day Slavery / Harmful sexual behaviour/Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)/ Honour Based Violence /Forced Marriage (FM) and Prevent

Our partners

We also have a very close working relationship with the schools, academies and colleges in Barnsley and representation from both senior and junior schools on the BSCP and its sub-groups. We hold Designated Safeguarding Lead Forums each term to share best practice, offer training and share learning.

  • Barnsley College
  • Barnardo's
  • Barnsley Hospital
  • Barnsley Safeguarding Adults Board
  • Berneslai Homes
  • Cafcass
  • Healthwatch Barnsley
  • NHS England
  • NHS South West Yorkshire Partnership
  • NHS Barnsley Clinical commissioning group
  • South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company
  • South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
  • South Yorkshire Police
  • National Probation Service

BSCP governance arrangements

Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership (BSCP) published its arrangements to meet the guidance contained in Working Together 2018 on 1st April 2019. We went live as the BSCP 1st April 2019. Find out more about the BSCP governance arrangements.

Working Together 2018 changes the governance arrangements that existed under earlier versions of Working Together and reflects The Children and Social Work Act 2017 which received Royal Assent in April 2017. Section 30 of the Act removes the requirement for local areas to have Local Safeguarding Children Boards. Sections 16 – 23 introduce a duty on 3 key partners (Local Authorities, Police and Clinical Commissioning Groups) to make arrangements with other partners as locally determined to work together in a local area to protect and safeguard children.

Under our previous arrangements the Local Authority had the responsibility for safeguarding partnership arrangements. That has now been extended to include the Police, and the Clinical Commissioning Group on behalf of health. The three Safeguarding Partners have introduced regular scheduled meetings, chaired in rotation by each of the three Safeguarding Partners, where they meet with the Independent Chair to discuss such issues as the local priorities, the structure and functioning of the Partnership, the agenda of forthcoming Partnership meetings, the budget and any cases subject of Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews. This has strengthened the oversight of the Partnership.

Barnsley recognises and welcomes the added value that Independent Scrutiny brings to ensuring that local arrangements are effective. Independent Scrutiny is a strong feature in Working Together 2018.

The Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership will have the following aspects of Independent Scrutiny:

  • It will retain the services of an Independent Chair. It is considered that there is benefit in having Partnership meetings chaired by an individual who is not the representative of any single agency and is able to bring their experience of acting as a critical friend, who encourages appropriate challenge, and plays an important role in holding agencies to account. The role is developing to include more aspects of scrutiny of arrangements.
  • It will have an annual programme of independent case file audits. This will take the form of both single agency and multi-agency audits targeted at specific issues, for example Neglect and Child Sexual Exploitation, which will review cases against agreed criteria to independently assess if contact with children and families was in accordance with policies and procedures and that it was appropriate to the circumstances thereby producing the right outcomes.
  • The BSCP commits to an active involvement in the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Scrutiny arrangements. This Annual Report will be the subject of a BMBC Scrutiny Committee meeting.
  • The BSCP is committed to involving children and young people in having an active role in local arrangements. It works closely with the Children’s Trust Executive Group to consult with children and young people on the formulation of plans and strategies. The BSCP holds its meetings in Secondary Schools when practical and welcomes observers from the schools to the meetings. After the meetings, members of the BSCP meet with a focus group of students to gain a better understanding of what it is like to be a young person growing up in Barnsley and what current safeguarding issues affect their daily lives.
  • Local elected members attend the BSCP as part of ensuring that local people are involved and have a voice.
  • The BSCP commissions Independent Authors to conduct Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews inappropriate cases that meet the criteria set out in WTG 2018.
  • The Partnership takes part in Peer Reviews when appropriate.

Governance structure

  • Independent Chair: Bob Dyson

Governance Group Meeting (With Effect From 1st April 2020) between Independent Chair And Three Safeguarding Partners Barnsley CCG, Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Police.

  • Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership
    • Performance Audit And Quality Assurance Sub Group - Barnsley Council
    • Child Exploitation Strategy Group - South Yorkshire Police
    • Policy, Procedures And Workforce Practice And Development - Barnsley CCG and Barnsley Council
    • Child Death Overview Panel – Barnsley Council Public Health
    • Disability Sub-Group - Barnsley Council
    • Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review Sub-Group - Independent Chair

The impact of the BSCP upon safeguarding children and young people

The Safeguarding Partnership has engaged in a range of activity during 2020-21 which is detailed in this report which has contributed significantly to ensuring that children and young people are more effectively safeguarded. This includes learning the lessons from cases where unfortunately children have suffered harm and where we have undertaken Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews, in accordance with statutory guidance (Working Together 2018). We have also considered the learning from the National Child Safeguarding Review Panel, which has echoed our own local concerns during the pandemic about the increase in hidden harm for children, a rise in injury and sudden death of infants under one year of age and the rise in criminal exploitation of children and contextual safeguarding. Further detail is provided on page 14 about the work of our Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews and how learning from these is being implemented into practice improvements.

The BCSP has also delivered an extensive and increased programme of multi-agency training to partners during the past year and this has involved feedback from participants to demonstrate the impact upon their practice and changes made to improve safeguarding, which is detailed on page 12 and 19 of this report.

We have continued with a full programme of quality assurance activity which involves qualitative multi-agency audits undertaken together to examine the quality of practice across a range of professionals including social workers, health professionals, police officers and others to support and protect children and young people. The findings from audit activity are developed into action plans which are regularly reviewed by our PAQA subgroup and evaluated for their impact to improve safeguarding, contributing to Even Better service improvement in Barnsley. Details of our PAQA work with key learning from our audits starts on page 23.

We have improved our communication with partner agencies by introducing a quarterly Safeguarding Newsletter, which provides information on latest safeguarding practice developments, new legislation, research findings, safeguarding training opportunities and reaffirms key messages such as safe sleeping for infant’s advice to parents and professionals.

In December 2021, the Partnership re-issued a revised Escalation Process on the BSCP website which is a simplified and more effective process for anyone working with children and young people to escalate their concerns to the Partnership, if they feel that services are not responding properly in a timely way to safeguard a child or young person. Concerns raised in this way are quickly followed up and carefully monitored to ensure that the relevant service responds with corrective action and learning from this is shared through our PAQA group across the Partnership.

The Partnership has also engaged in a variety of ways with children and young people to hear their voice and views with regard to safeguarding and has met with young people through Partnership meetings and joint events with the Children’s Trust Executive Group. More detail of our work with young people is detailed in the following section.

The voice of the child

The Partnership Meeting is normally held at least once or twice a year in a school, or college so that afterwards, the young people engage with members of the Partnership to speak about what life is like for them living in Barnsley. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 pandemic this has not been possible, however we will hopefully resume this activity when it is safe to do so. All Partnership meetings have been held as virtual meetings since March 2020 and we have had joint events with the Executive Group of the Children’s Trust which young people have attended to share their views on different topics, including concerns about bullying, both in person and online, happening within schools and in the community.

Anti-bullying

During 2020 – 21 the BSCP responded to the concerns raised by our SEND Youth Forum about bullying behaviour by other young people which the young people shared with the Partnership in a video that they produced.

On behalf of the BSCP, the Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance has worked with the SEND Youth Forum and other Youth Forums supported by the Youth Voice and Participation team to co-produce an Anti–Bullying Commitment which has been signed up to by all primary and secondary schools in Barnsley to promise to tackle bullying and harassment behaviours in schools and to ensure that pupils feel safe and well supported with known trusted staff to talks to if they have any worries. The Youth Forums have worked to help refresh the BSCP anti-bullying strategy and a new Action Plan is being developed which will include training and better information for pupils, staff and parents through 2021-22 to tackle this issue together. The young people involved together with the Youth Voice and Participation team in Barnsley are thanked for their time and commitment to this project which has resulted already in schools paying more attention to this issue and to revise their own bullying and harassment policies. Making schools and our communities a safer place for young people who feel better supported to speak out when they experience bullying and harassment will improve their emotional well being and their outcomes for learning too.

Some quotes from our young people on this issue:

  • I think people should be aware when it comes to social media because some people may have social workers if adopted or in care.
  • Get people to understand the effects of bullying so it doesn’t happen again
  • I also think people should be aware of online grooming
  • In school young people should be took seriously with bullying cases and not ignored. Also, if an incident happens, the teacher shouldn’t assume that the young person is involved with this (i.e. being in the wrong place at the wrong time).
  • Improve confidence for young people to feel they can report any bullying to school
  • It’s important to keep note of any unexplained marks or bruises as well as where they are found

The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel

In March 2020 the National Panel published the findings of its first National Review into Child Criminal Exploitation, “It was Hard to
Escape”. The review sets out recommendations and findings for government and local safeguarding partners to protect children at risk of
criminal exploitation. It is a qualitative study of 21 cases from 17 local areas regarding children who died or experienced serious harm
where criminal exploitation was a factor.

In Barnsley we briefed our safeguarding partnership on the findings of the report and used those findings to further inform our training,
particularly around Child Criminal Exploitation and Contextual Safeguarding. We benchmarked our Child Exploitation Strategy against the
report to ensure that we are meeting all the recommendations. Further work has been undertaken by the Child Exploitation subgroup to
review and strengthen our multi- agency processes in Barnsley for better identification and assessment of children at risk of contextual
safeguarding as highlighted on page 17 of this report.

In July 2020, The National Panel produced their report, “Out of Routine: A review of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) in families
where children are considered at risk of significant harm” This review considered the persistent nature of risk to babies from harm and
sudden death, which appeared to increase with the impact of the pandemic and young children being out of their normal routine, with a
particular risk of co-sleeping, heightened where parents are smoking or using alcohol or substances.

The safeguarding partnership discussed and shared the learning from this review and learning from several tragic incidents in the region
which involved serious harm or death to young infants. This led to the promotion of as a priority action for 2020-21. The BSCP promoted a
‘Safe Sleep’ campaign, which was a particular focus of Safeguarding Awareness Week 2020 with partner local authorities in the South
Yorkshire region, which involved communication in local media and on social media and training for multi-agency staff who work with
children and families. Training was also delivered on Safe Sleep by colleagues in public health to children’s social workers, with improved
practice guidance for social workers to have “safe sleep conversations” with families that they are working with. This has had a positive
impact, as evidenced through our quality assurance activity, that social workers are more alert to the risks of SUDI and are working closely
with midwives, health visitors and GPs to give consistent messages to parents in relation to safe sleeping. This remains a priority area of
work for the partnership.

In January 2021 the ICON initiative was launched in Barnsley to support parents to cope with crying babies and to prevent harm to infants. ICON represents:

  • I – Infant crying is normal
  • C – Comforting methods can help
  • O – It’s OK to walk away
  • N – Never, ever shake a baby

The project is being adopted across the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, including Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield, and Bassetlaw. The call for resources comes after several infant deaths and serious case reviews where a baby has died or been seriously injured due to abusive head trauma. There was an extensive social media campaign to promote the ICON messages and training has been delivered to health and social care professionals working with families and expectant parents.

Multi-agency safeguarding training

From March 2021, as we entered the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, all multi-agency training in Barnsley moved to a virtual platform and we continued to deliver the full comprehensive programme of multi-agency training which covers the full range of safeguarding issues including neglect, child exploitation and domestic abuse. New courses added in 2020-21 include “Safeguarding in the First Year of Life” and “The Voice of the Child”. More staff form the children and family workforce have attended our training in 2020-21 than in previous years. We have delivered 150 training courses to a total of 4795 delegates, this is an increase on 2019-20 when we delivered 124 courses to 2850 delegates. This is accepted regionally as being by far the most comprehensive child safeguarding training programme on offer and we are proud of this achievement and the work of our multi-agency trainer, who delivers and co-ordinates this work. More staff from all agencies that work with children and families have signed up to training events in 2020-21 and feedback from attendees shows high satisfaction levels and that overwhelmingly staff find virtual courses more easily accessible. Participants also provide feedback as evidence of the impact of safeguarding training upon their practice and this is also tested through audits and Section 11 check and challenge process.

Members of the PPWPD subgroup continued to attend occasional training events at random, during the past year as part of regular quality assurance activity and gave positive feedback regarding the quality of training provided.

Some quotes from attendees at multi-agency training 2020-21 with evidence of impact upon their practice:

Domestic Abuse, Risk Assessment and MARAC:

  • “I have a better understanding of the signs to look out for and how to report any concerns that I have”
  • “I will be able to incorporate the training into my daily work life”
  • “It has provided me with the tools to deal with it if recognised and support family's to be safe”

Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Effects on the Child:

  • “Will help me to understand the children I work with and to think more about why things are happening, then what I can do to help them through it.”
  • “I will be using this training with all my foster carers as part of their supervision”
  • “I will be able to understand the behaviour shown by children that have unfortunately experienced trauma and understand how to deal with these behaviours in a more sympathetic and calming way. I also now understand what support is best to offer and how vital my role can be for these children.”

Neglect training:

  • “It has helped me to understand the different types of neglect and how little things can amount to big problems if we as practitioners looked at the bigger picture, it is important to be vigilant and always think of the child in any situation we come across”
  • “It will make me more vigilant when out with families doing assessments. Some great learning tools to help assess without been judgemental.”
  • “It has given me greater understanding and empathy for the children in my care”

New courses added to the training programme in 2020-21:

  • The Importance of the Voice of the Child
  • Bullying and Links to Trauma
  • Sexual Abuse Within the Family
  • Working with Those Who Cause Sexual Harm
  • Safeguarding Young People Against Gaming and Gambling Related Harm
  • Supporting Young People Through Loss and Bereavement
  • Safeguarding Infants in the First Year of Life
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Managing Unwise Decisions For 16+
  • Child Death Process
  • Elected Home Education – The Multi-Agency Approach

Safeguarding Awareness Week

South Yorkshire Safeguarding Awareness week took place in November 2020. Large numbers of staff and volunteers had access to training and development opportunities. An effective communications campaign on social media and on local radio delivered safeguarding messages out to Barnsley residents in the absence of planned public events (cancelled due to Covid restrictions). The focus of activity during the week was Safe Sleep and SUDI; Contextual Safeguarding, Neglect and Domestic Abuse, particularly promoting the work of IDASS with the rise of incidents of domestic abuse affecting children seen during the pandemic lockdowns, in Barnsley and nationally. Virtual training events and webinars were held to engage partner agencies and practitioners across Barnsley working with children and families. A publicity campaign was launched in conjunction with the 3 other safeguarding partnerships across South Yorkshire which included radio interviews, and social media messages on Facebook and Twitter to promote Safe Sleep for babies, and better education for new and expectant parents in relation to crying infants and where to access support. This was in response to mounting concern nationally and locally about a rise in significant incidents involving young babies harmed through overlay or as a result of parental loss of control/anger management. This campaign of focus of work has continued through to 2021 and will remain a key priority area for the partnership as well as work on domestic abuse, neglect and risks of contextual safeguarding for children.

Local Child Safeguarding Practise Review Subgroup (LCSPR)

The LSCPR subgroup is chaired by the Independent Chair of the BSCP and has the responsibility for overseeing the commissioning of Safeguarding Children Practice Reviews for cases that meet the criteria set out in Chapter 4 of Working Together 2018. It also manages the action plans from completed reviews to ensure that all learning points are addressed in order to improve our approach to safeguarding children in Barnsley.

There are two reviews that have been completed from previous years that cannot yet be published due to ongoing criminal proceedings; they are Child T and Child U.

One review, Child V, was published during 2020/2021 and is available on the BSCP website. It involves the physical abuse of a young baby. A family member, father, was convicted for that offence. There were 11 recommendations from this review which were developed into an Action Plan with actions for all agencies that have been completed. Key learning from this review included that agencies understand the threshold for Early Help and promote Early Help Assessments and that midwifery and health visitors improve their communications systems to ensure that joint ante natal visits are undertaken to pregnant mothers. Other recommendations related to practitioners understanding of the protocol for bruising and injuries to non-mobile infants and seeking assurance that children are not stepped down form child protection plans prematurely. Individual agencies have undertaken single agency audits as required in relation to the recommendations and policies and procedures have been updated and reviewed where required. Additional training in relation to “Safeguarding Infants in the First Year of Life” has been included in the multi-agency training programme to increase all practitioners skills and knowledge to keep children safe as an outcome from this learning review.

During 2020/2021, several Rapid Review Meetings were held to consider if individual cases met the criteria for an LSCPR. As a consequence of those meetings the decision was taken to commission an LSCPR in two cases, Child W and Child X. Neither of those reports were ready to be published during 2020/2021 and both are the subject of police investigations. It is anticipated that they will be published during 2021/2022.

As a result of two reviews in cases where babies died whilst in bed with a parent, a task and finish group was established to develop an action plan to promote safer sleep. This work has included developing a training programme, multi-agency guidance and publicity campaigns to raise public awareness. This work has taken regard of the learning from the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel thematic review, “Out of routine: A review of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) in families where the children are considered at risk of significant harm” July 2020. The work has involved working with a wide range of agencies who work with families; recognising a true multi-agency response is necessary to address this issue. The work has been underpinned by learning from the national thematic review, in addition to local reviews and audits.

here have been a number of baby deaths in recent years that raise concern that parents are not always abiding by the principles of safe sleep despite the advice that is given to parents of new-born babies. It is intended that the work of the task and finish group will have an impact and reduce the number of these tragic cases.

All reviews result in action plans to implement the learning arising from the reviews. They are the subject of scrutiny by the subgroup to ensure that all actions are completed and embedded in practice. Examples include reviewing the Children Missing Education protocol and a renewed focus on children not being brought for medical appointments.

Child Death Overview Panel

Chair - Barnsley Council Public Health

What we do

The Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP) is intended to help Barnsley’s Local Safeguarding Partnership to develop a better understanding of how and why children die, and to inform further prevention work. It is the role of the CDOP to look at all deaths of children and young people in Barnsley, whatever the reason, to see if there is anything that we can learn from them and anything that might help us avoid such deaths happening in the future.

What we did

  • Four CDOP meetings were held in 2020/21, during which 14 deaths were reviewed and completed by the Panel, with the aim of developing a better understanding of how and why children die and informing prevention work to avoid such deaths happening again in future.
  • Of the cases completed in 2020/21, the average time between death and completed review was 268 days. The shortest time was 152 days and the longest time between death and completed review was 759 days; this case was complex and went to inquest.
  • The age at time of death ranged from 10 days to 17 years. Most deaths reviewed were aged under 1 year (N = 7); one of these occurred within the first four weeks of life (neonatal period).

The Panel considered how each child’s death compares to others that have been reviewed previously and whether any common themes or trends emerge. As part of the process, they identify any factors which could be prevented or avoided in future and recommend any changes that need to be made to achieve this. In Barnsley, there were 10 unexpected deaths reviewed in 20/21; of these, 4 cases had at least one modifiable factor.

The modifiable factors identified were in relation to Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI) including parental substance misuse (tobacco, cannabis, alcohol); and the handling of sexual abuse reporting and missed GP appointments.

CDOP has supported actions taken in 2020/21 to help reduce risk factors:

  • Development of local guidance to ensure the child death process, including the rapid response work, could continue safely via virtual means considering the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Process put in place to ensure that Covid-19 testing has been carried out in all cases prior to transfer for post-mortem. Fortunately, there were no Covid-19 deaths in children during the period covered by this report either directly or indirectly because of the pandemic.
  • Development of a ‘key worker’ process that ensures families are given a single, named point of contact. This person acts as a single point of contact for the bereaved family, who they can turn to for information on the child death review process thereby improving the experience for bereaved families.
  • Development of a “Health Passport” for children with additional needs, to ensure that the ‘passport’ contains the right information relating to the child’s health and communication needs, which will prevent Children and Young People having to update every member of staff when they attend health appointments and improve consistency of care.
  • Mobilisation of a local SUDI Task and Finish Group to implement a local SUDI action plan has focus on raising awareness and skills staff and the public by delivering:
  • A borough-wide Safe Sleep Communications Plan, this included a radio advert on Hallam FM during Safe Sleep Week 2021, with a reach of 288,848 households.
  • A number of safe sleep briefings have been delivered to partner agencies, including GPs, Social Care, probation, housing, substance misuse services and IDAS. As a result, Social Care include a safe sleep assessment as part of their assessment process, and the promotion of safe sleep practice in their conversations with service users.
  • Completion of an audit of Barnsley cases of Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI) highlighted smoking as a factor in 100% of SUDI has led to the development of an action plan to improve smoking cessation support in the antenatal and postnatal periods to ensure smoke free environments for children and young people.

What we will do - key recommendations for further action 2021/22

  • Delivery of a working group to develop a clear pathway/process around SARC to ensure follow up, especially where child or young person declines. More funding has been secured to run another Safe Sleep campaign for a longer period, so we hope to reach more listeners.
  • Recommunicate “Was Not Brought” process in General Practice and consideration of risks following failed attendances.
  • Training on trauma-informed practice for services working with children and young people.
  • Review and evaluate the key worker process, role and responsibilities, in line with the relevant guidance.

Child Exploitation Strategy Group

Chair - South Yorkshire Police

What we do

The Child Exploitation (CE) Strategy Group is responsible to the Safeguarding Children Partnership for overview of inter-agency working in all areas of CE including Contextual Safeguarding and County Lines. The Strategy Group is also responsible for the development and implementation of the Safeguarding Children Partnership CE Strategy and Work Plan.

What we did

In 2020 - 21 we carried out three multi-agency audits so that we can assure the Partnership that our partners are fully aware of the risks facing our children and young people from those wishing to try and harm them through CE. This includes on-line grooming specifically and on-line safety in the broader sense and pressures they may face from their peers in engaging in risk taking behaviours that might further expose them to harm.

As well as making sure the BSCP CE Strategy and Work Plan is kept up to date, the CE Strategy Group received regular reports and updates from the Multiple Vulnerabilities and Contextual Abuse Panel, which considers some of our most at risk children and young people and reports from the Missing Panel, that meets regularly to consider children and young people who go missing from home, the reasons why they go missing and what we can do to try and keep them safe.

Outcomes for children and young people

  • We have strengthened local processes for identifying, assessing and protecting children and young people at risk of child sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation, to improve the response when referrals are received, to ensure that children and families get the right help and support quickly.
  • A daily briefing of multi-agency partners with Front Door social care has been introduced to improve real time information gathering and information sharing in relation to young people at risk of contextual safeguarding and incidents, including missing episodes overnight to provide a quick and timely response to safeguard young people more effectively from harm.
  • The processes for Return Home interviews for children who go Missing from home or care have been strengthened to ensure a more timely response and auditing has evidenced improvements both in timeliness and quality of work undertaken to interview young people and to understand and prevent further missing episodes (see PAQA audits)
  • Training has been undertaken with foster carers, residential homes and private providers with regard to the South Yorkshire Missing Protocol and the Philomena project to better protect young people at risk of harm through missing episodes.

What we will do

In 2021 – 22 we will continue to conduct regular audits of cases where children and young people have been exposed to or at risk of
CE. We will continue to assess the local risks that our children and young people are facing, including Harmful Sexual Behaviour and we will make sure all our partners and people that work for them are aware of what CE is and for them to be constantly vigilant so that we can keep our children and young people as safe as possible.

We are extending the knowledge and skill of all children’s practitioners by providing more training on contextual safeguarding with the introduction of a specialist trainer role for the BSCP in 2021.

Policy, procedure, workforce practice and development

Joint Chair - Barnsley CCG and Barnsley Council

What we do

  • We aim to ensure we have a workforce that is supported to safeguard children in Barnsley. We strive to ensure staff are well supported and feel confident and competent to undertake their safeguarding role. This is achieved through the provision of a comprehensive training offer and assurance that staff are attending relevant training and achieving required competency.
  • Additionally, that this is underpinned by clear, comprehensive policies which are readily available for all staff to access. Moreover, that staff have access to safeguarding supervision to support them and the caseloads they manage. Support and supervision for staff has been particularly important in the last 12 months as they have dealt with the pandemic.
  • The role of the PPWPD is to ensure the above structures are in place and maintain oversight of these to ensure they remain relevant and we are aware of emerging issues and learning

What we did

  • Continued to offer a comprehensive training offer. This has obviously been challenging due to the restrictions. However, as soon as it became clear that we were going to be working differently the Chair discussed options with the Multi Agency Trainer very quickly adapted to a virtual training programme which has met and exceeded the full comprehensive offer of safeguarding training to the children’s workforce and partner agencies.
  • Continued to revise and add to our training offer in response to need and through learning from Local regionally as being by far the most comprehensive child safeguarding training prograde and national Reviews, Best Practice, Research or due to emerging issues or themes.
  • Reviewed all current policies and procedures to ensure they remain relevant and are up-to-date and established a rolling Tracker for review of policies
  • Continued to quality assure the training programme offered
  • Continued to develop a successful programme of learning for safeguarding leads
  • Generated a substantial amount of income to reinvest in the training offer
  • Organised several successful conferences/masterclasses via a virtual platform
  • Developed new training packages: Bullying & Links to trauma, Sexual Abuse within the family, Working with those who cause sexual harm, Safeguarding young people against gaming and gambling related harm, Supporting young people through loss and bereavement, Safeguarding young people in the first year of life, Suicide Prevention, Managing unwise decisions for 16+
  • Developed and disseminated a new professional escalation policy, tracker and learning tool.
  • Co-production with SEND and other Youth Forums to develop a refreshed Anti-Bullying strategy with a Commitment signed up to by schools and a training plan for 2021-22
  • Supported the joint work across Adults and Children’s Social Care to develop the multi-agency monthly Directions Panel to ensure vulnerable young people 16 years plus are supported and helped to prepare effectively for their transition to adulthood
  • Continuing to offer an up-to-date and comprehensive training offer, ensuring we have relevant policies and procedures and supporting our workforce - has helped to ensure we have a workforce that is well positioned, knowledgeable, confident and supported to deliver better outcomes for children and young people.

Outcomes for children and young people

On behalf of the BSCP the Barnsley Safeguarding Children multi-agency Training Programme represents one of the most comprehensive safeguarding training offers in the country with over 100 training courses, conferences and seminars on offer. This work helps to upskill the children’s workforce to ensure that all front-line practitioners in Barnsley and their managers have the skills, knowledge and toolkits to effectively identify children in need of support or at risk of harm, intervene timely and appropriately to provide the right support to them and their families. Staff who have received training have fed back how they have improved their practice because of training to better safeguard children.

The subgroup has also reviewed and strengthened policies and procedures in the light of learning form quality assurance work and child safeguarding practice reviews to ensure their effectiveness and application. An example is the work to improve the application of the multi-agency Pre-Birth Pathway to ensure effective joint working and communication across health agencies, midwifery, health visiting and children’s social care. This work has led to better information sharing and planning prior to the birth of babies as evidenced by audit activity.

What we will do

  • In 2021 – 22 we continue to look to provide a similar comprehensive training programme in a virtual format until we can return to face to face training. We will continue to keep abreast of what is happening locally and nationally and ensure our policies and training reflect and address any gaps. Develop Multi Agency procedures for safe sleep.
  • Develop a training programme to reflect the learning from recent local reviews
  • We will develop multi- agency procedures for safe sleep to support and guide staff in all agencies to promote safe sleep practice and assess risk. Redevelop the procedures on bruising/injuries on non-mobile babies and fabricated and induced illness.
  • Update existing training Communicating with Children to the Importance of Hearing the Voice of the Child, with additional focus on why it’s important that we hear the voice of the child.
  • Promote training and better understanding in relation to Transitional Safeguarding for Young Adults in partnership with the Adults Safeguarding Board and Adults Social Care.

Safeguarding children with a disability or complex health needs

Chair - Barnsley Council

What we do

  • One of the more vulnerable groups in society is those who either have a disability and/or complex health needs.
  • The Partnership considers it very important that it continues to have oversight of this group of children and young people and that the needs of this vulnerable group are being met.
  • The role of the Safeguarding Children with Disabilities or Complex Health Needs subcommittee is to make sure that partners are working together to ensure the support needed is available for this group of vulnerable children and young people and to work alongside colleagues and partners of the Adult Safeguarding Board to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place for when these young people transition into adulthood, particularly with regard to relevant training.

What we did

We carried out quarterly themed audits to give the Safeguarding Children Partnership assurance that children with disabilities and or complex health needs receive the support they need and that appropriate plans are in place to keep them safe. We worked with colleagues across the partnership to ensure that transition protocols are in place to support children and young people when they transition from receiving help and support from children’s services to accessing help and support from adult services.

Outcomes for children and young people

We have built strong positive relationship between adult service and children’s services to ensure that transitions are timely and children and families understand their pathway, what to expect and the timescales. This means that children have a streamlined service where adults and children both know families and young people well and understand their needs. This has reduced anxiety for families and helped young people and their families plan for what comes next.

The joint working between adults and children’s social care has enabled social workers to become more confident about the process and ensure that transitions are managed across services and this means families are not left in the middle but are informed early of plans and supported throughout.

Where young people don’t meet the criteria for existing transition pathways but do have additional needs post 18years they are now at an early point brought to the Directions Panel so that children and adult services can think about how best to support vulnerable young people as they move into adulthood and ensure they have the best possible start to adult life with the right services in place. This has meant children do not slip through the cracks and are can access the right support at the right time.

Embedded a collaborative approach to EHC where we have full embedded a joint working approach. This means that children’s needs are fully understood when planning for their futures and the professionals around them have a shared understanding of their needs. This ensures children have a timely EHC plan that is fully contributed to by health, education and social care. This has reduced delay for children in the EHC plan being completed and has improved the quality of planning.

What we will do

  • We will continue to work alongside partners in both children’s and adult services to ensure colleagues are aware of their responsibilities towards this group of children and young people and that appropriate services are available
  • Listen to the voice of children and young people with SEND issues and support partners, to work collaboratively to improve services for children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • Develop co-production work with young people to tackle bullying, loneliness and
    exclusion issues that young people have told us they want to be addressed
  • Work with education settings in Barnsley, young people and families to improve the daily experience of all children with complex needs and disabilities.
  • Continue to build relationships between health, education and children social care to ensure that EHC plans are as robust as possible, and that this supports children being able to get the services that they need.
  • Children will get the right support at the right time, that this is based on assessment of need and that support is provided at the right level. Where this is step down to early help that we build strong links with partners to ensure children continue to access the right support and where this changes that we respond quickly to changing need.

Performance Audit and Quality Assurance Sub-Group

Chair - Barnsley Council

What we do

On behalf of the Partnership, we carry out regular checks of individual agencies safeguarding practice. We oversee and scrutinise key, cross cutting performance indicators. We secure quality assurance through findings from single and multi agency audits and use this information to improve practice across the partnership.

What we did

March 2020 – Children subject to S17 or S47 assessment for concerns regarding Familial Sexual Abuse. Learning points:

  • Timely identification of risk and completion of assessments
  • Children were on appropriate plans with the right support in place
  • Good multi-agency working and information sharing
  • Need to identify wider family members more as source of support/safety
  • Need to make more use of other support services for victims such as BSARCs

June 2020 – Children referred to social care in least 3 months with concerns regarding Neglect:

  • Evidence of good partnership working
  • Graded Care Profile not being used consistently by health visitors
  • Limited evidence in assessments of the voice of the child
  • Strategy meeting minutes not consistently shared with partner agencies
  • Need to improve feedback to partner agencies with assessment outcomes

August 2020 – Children Missing from Home or Care and Return Home Interviews:

  • All young people in the cohort audited had an assessment of their needs and a safety plan
  • Evidence of good inter agency working and information sharing
  • Good evidence of persistence by staff to interview young people after missing episodes to understand the reasons why and the risks around them
  • Return Home Interviews were offered to all young people who went missing within 72 hours, in line with the South Yorkshire Missing Protocol and appropriate support offered.

October 2020 – Unborn children subject to Pre-Birth Assessments:

  • Good evidence of joint working across agencies and early identification of unborn at potential risk
  • Timely work to progress child protection and legal processes for babies at risk of significant harm
  • Birth Plans were not always developed and shared with midwifery on every case
  • Joint visits with midwives and health visitors are not happening consistently in line with the agreed Pre-Birth Pathway
  • Some evidence that the quality of assessments and intervention with families was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic with less structured home visits to families

February 2021 – Quality of Assessments for children in need of help or protection (S17 and S47)

  • Strong partnership working with good information sharing in the MASH
  • Safe Sleep messages being given to parents by social workers and health staff
  • Found some delay in identifying Lead Professional at case that had stepped down which led to drift in the plan for the child and family
  • Some written assessments lacked depth of analysis and professional curiosity

Outcomes for children and young people

PAQA also considered findings from dip samples and case audits completed by children’s social care on a range of issues to offer further scrutiny of the quality of safeguarding practice and internal learning reviews. This has been particularly important during the pandemic with raised concerns regarding Hidden Harm to children and young people. Recommendations from all Audit activity are developed into specific action plans which feed into continuous service improvement work and learning is shared across the Partnership.

Good practice is identified through audit activity and celebrated so that we can share and improve the quality for practice for young people across the partnership, to make children feel safer, valued, listened to and respected. Practice which falls below standard is addressed quickly by individual agencies and with individual workers and learning themes for improvement are woven into our Partnership Continuous Service Improvement Plan to provide outstanding services for children and families in Barnsley.

What we will do

In 2021-22, PAQA will continue to carry out multi-agency audits to give the Board assurance that partners are doing everything they can to keep children and young people safe in Barnsley. We will continue to oversee multi-agency audits that test quality delivered by the BSCP Subgroups. As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic we will work with partners to ensure that new ways of working are effectively meeting the needs of children and families and we will continue to scrutinise cross cutting performance indicators and measures, to secure evidence that children in Barnsley are safeguarded.

In particular, we will be examining the performance and quality of multi-agency work undertaken with: Missing Children & Return Home Interviews, Children Electively Home Educated, Children subject to CIN and CP Plans and Pre-Birth Assessments to check that learning from quality assurance activity and from training has been effectively embedded across all agencies.

Looking forward - our priorities for 2021-22

In 2021-22 the Partnership will continue its strategic priorities to safeguard children as set out in this report. It will strengthen the scrutiny of safeguarding effectiveness across the partnership and with the introduction of the Independent Scrutineer role, will review the Partnership arrangements and process to ensure that children’s outcomes are improved by effective joint working on safeguarding.

In particular, the Partnership will be focussed upon:

  • Reducing the numbers of children harmed by overlay
  • Embedding the learning from local and national child safeguarding practice reviews into practice
  • Working closely with the 3 statutory safeguarding partners to improve our work across the partnership on neglect and poverty proofing, taking into account the impact of the pandemic on the communities of Barnsley and the effects of neglect upon children and promoting more use of the Graded Care Profile by all staff
  • Implement the recommendations and learning from the recent Ofsted report (May 2021) into sexual harassment and sexual abuse in schools and incorporate the challenge on this into our S175 safeguarding survey with all schools
  • Implement the revised anti bullying strategy and action plan with schools and partners to respond positively to the voice of young people to provide more safety and freedom from bullying and harassment in their daily lives
  • Strengthen our engagement with young people and their voice in the development and co-production of safeguarding strategies and the work of the Partnership.
  • Increase the take up and effectiveness of Early Help and support to families, especially this experiencing poverty through social disadvantage as we recover from the pandemic

Summary

It can be seen from this report that 2020-21 was a challenging year for all services but especially for the children and families in Barnsley that we work together to support. The Safeguarding Partnership has played an important role in bringing agencies together to debate issues and to provide assurance through audit activity and multi-agency training that partners are fully sighted on the risks to children and young people and are working together effectively to support their families and to safeguard children from harm. The Partnership has delivered the highest ever level of training support to multi-agency partners by adapting positively to virtual working, which has resulted in higher levels of engagement and increased efficiencies for all services. This trend will continue into 2021-22 as a new way of working, with occasional meetings in person to help reaffirm the strong relationships that partnership thrives upon.

Looking forward to 2021-22 the Partnership will drive forward with the strategic priorities and continue with the work of the subgroups, whilst seeking to strengthen our engagement with children and young people and listening to their voice regarding their priorities for keeping them safe from harm. We will learn from Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews, locally and nationally to ensure that learning is shared widely to improve practice and procedures where necessary. We will examine the quality of safeguarding work across the Partnership through our audits and information gathering and work together to address issues and to identify gaps in service provision for children. We will strengthen our quality assurance of safeguarding in Barnsley by the introduction of the role of Independent Scrutineer to hold all agencies to account for the difference made to children and young people.

We will further develop our work to support the most vulnerable children and those with complex needs and disabilities to achieve a good and safe transition into adulthood and work with partners to provide the right help and support where it is needed. We will continue with a strong focus on contextual safeguarding and transitional safeguarding and we will remain vigilant regarding emerging safeguarding issues as they affect children and young people in Barnsley. As we recover from the pandemic we will be closely sighted on the impact upon children and families, especially regarding the most socially disadvantaged and most vulnerable to ensure that they get the right help and support when needed. We will work closely with all partner agencies to strengthen the early identification of need and to promote effective Early Help for children and families to improve their resilience and enable children to grow up safely within their own families and communities, wherever possible.

The safeguarding landscape in Barnsley

Although the figure fluctuates slightly, for a number of reasons, there are c. 52,000 0 -18 year old children and young people living in Barnsley.

We have seen a rise in children requiring more intervention for help and protection during 2021 which is related to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased pressures faced by many families, particularly more vulnerable families. The number of children subject to Child Protection Plans did decrease in the latter half of 2021, from al all time high in August 2020, but this number has continued to increase steadily since and is still an area of work which receives a high level of scrutiny to ensure that the right help is being given to children at the right time for their needs.

There are also approximately 2,890 children receiving support through early help on an open Early Help Assessment. The number of children receiving Early Help support has increased during 2020-21 as can be evidenced by the increase in the number of Early Help Assessments provided and completed. This accords with the Partnership priority of Prevention to increase the availability and take up of early help and support by families to help prevent problems in families escalating to the point where they need statutory intervention. This also supports Barnsley’s aspiration to help enable families to be stronger and more resilient to support their children.

What to do if you are worried about a child

If the child is in danger call the police on 999 or (01142) 202020.

If the child is not at risk of immediate harm

If you're concerned about a child, but they're not in immediate danger, it's still important to share the information with us as soon as possible. If your call is not urgent contact the Assessment Service on (01226) 772423. Our offices are open between Monday and Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Out of hours emergencies

If you want to report your concern urgently and our offices are closed, you can contact our Emergency Duty Team on 01226 787789. They work on weekends and bank holidays and deal with issues that can't wait until usual office opening hours.

Visit our Worried about a child? page for more information

Financial position 2020/21

Income

Partner Contribution
Barnsley Council £109,104
NHS Barnsley CCG £49,000
PCC £19,441
National Probation Service £1,037
TOTAL £178,582

Expenditure

Expense Amount
Staffing £111,861
Computers £6,832
General expenses £68
Professional fees/consultancy £42,036
Business support £17,785
TOTAL £178,582

 

Email us to download the 2020/21 annual report.

Previous annual reports

These documents define and guide the work of the Safeguarding Children Partnership throughout the year.

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