Report of the Cabinet Member for Communities.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Communities to the Committee, who introduced the Safeguarding Policy which concerned the development of a joint Safeguarding Policy that had been designed to be relevant to all seven district councils across Lincolnshire. The policy included a new requirement for Members to complete an e-learning module relating to Safeguarding within their first year in office with extra modules to be completed during their term of office.
The Committee was informed that the policy had been created for all seven district councils with specific “tweaks” for each individual Council. The Policy included a generic overview of safeguarding responsibilities. As a district council, the responsibilities for safeguarding children were the same as those for safeguarding vulnerable adults - to report incidents or concerns to the responsible authority (Lincolnshire County Council) and work with other agencies to ensure the welfare of children and vulnerable adults within the district. The policy also provided guidance on Early Intervention.
The policy covered a three-year period between 2020-2023 and would be reviewed on a three-yearly basis unless legislation or statutory guidance required the policy to be updated in the interim.
The Chairman indicated that Members needed to be aware of the policy in their role as elected Members but stressed that they were not safeguarding officers. They needed to know who the front-line officers were and what they needed to do if they found a safeguarding issue.
A brief overview was then given of each chapter on which Members were given the opportunity to comment.
Chapter 1 – generic overview and who had specific responsibility
Designated Safeguarding Officer, Harry Rai
Prevent Lead, Mark Jones
Operational Lead for Safeguarding and Deputy Prevent Officer, Carol Drury
The level of training and knowledge required was determined by each person’s role and their level of contact to vulnerable persons. Training was completed on a six-year rolling programme and all roles within an organisation had been categorised using the requirements of the National Competencies Framework for Children and Adults. The greater the responsibility, the higher the number of years of training required. Safeguarding was everyone’s responsibility. When Members were first elected, they were given an overview of safeguarding. The policy sets out a new requirement for Members to undertake an e-learning module on Safeguarding with further modules to be undertaken during their term of office. One Member stated that she had undertaken e-learning in her last job, it had been helpful, but she asked if there was anything to assist those who were not technologically confident or had accessibility issues. The Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer stated that the system was user friendly and easy to navigate and help would be available for those who needed it. The face to face briefing that Members had as part of the induction would also be kept in place.
Chapter 2 – Safeguarding Children and Young People. This chapter dealt with all situations within the Council’s operation which could potentially involve children or young people. Although people’s work may not directly impact on, or relate to, children or young people, everyone had a duty to recognise and respond to a child protection situation or concerns appropriately and people needed to be aware of the policy and its procedures.
Chapter 3 – Safeguarding Adults at Risk. This chapter was in effect a mirror image of Chapter 2 but with Adults as the focus. The Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board was responsible for the development of the multi-agency policy and procedures that were all relevant to organisations in Lincolnshire. Safeguarding adults required people and organisations to work together to prevent and stop abuse or neglect and make sure that the adults’ wellbeing was promoted.
Chapter 4 – This chapter dealt with Domestic Abuse in relation to either a child or an adult and came under safeguarding. Reference was made to MARAC which was a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference where victim focused information sharing, and risk management took place and was attended by key agencies where high risk cases were discussed. Sanctuary Schemes were also discussed. Again, this was a multi-agency victim centred initiative which aimed to enable households at risk of violence to remain safely in their own homes. Safeguarding required a multi-agency approach with any criminal activity being the domain of the Police. A question was asked about privately rented housing and it was stated that Social Registered Landlords were responsible for their tenants.
Chapter 5 – Preventing Violent Extremism. There was a duty under Prevent to have due regard to prevent people being drawn into violence and extremism and this sat outside of the criminal space. The Counterterrorism and Security Act enabled local authorities in addition to the Police to refer an individual at risk of being drawn into terrorism for discussion at a Channel panel. Previously this power had only been available to the Police. A support mechanism was available for victims to go through Channel with a mentor to bring them back to a place of safety. 98% of those individuals who were referred within Lincolnshire accepted help.
Chapter 6 – Hate crime and Mate crime. This was a rising issue with the crime not being reported properly or efficiently. Although an incident would be dealt with by the Police, racist graffiti on property would be dealt with by the local authority. One Member asked what Mate Crime was. It was where people were befriended in order to exploit them. It was noted that following the recent motion at Council reference to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia had been included within the policy.
Chapter 7 – Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. Reference was made to a previous meeting of the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee at which Detective Chief Superintendent Davison had spoken to the Committee on Operation Pottery, which was the largest modern slavery operation to have taken place in Lincolnshire. Victims were tied in through threat or emotional exploitation and often this was hidden in plain sight, such as within nail bars or car washes. A question was asked about how this could be identified, and mention was made of the Safe Carwash App that was available. Members asked if the name of the App could be e-mailed to them.
Ø Action Note
That the name of the App to identify legitimate businesses be e-mailed to all Members of the Committee.
Chapter 8 – County Lines and Cuckooing. These were forms of criminal exploitation and were the responsibility of the Police. This type of exploitation involved children and vulnerable adults. They were geographically widespread forms of harm about which little was known or recognised.
Chapter 9 – Stalking. Stalking in its broadest sense could also be linked with domestic abuse and was a criminal activity. If made aware it must be reported to the responsible authority. This could include both cyber and physical stalking. Everyone had a duty to report it.
Chapter 10 – Mobile Families. The guidance within the Policy was adapted from Mobile Families guidance produced by the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Partnership and was aimed at raising awareness. It encouraged vigilance about families that moved frequently and appeared to live transient lifestyles.
A discussion followed with reference being made to homelessness and it was stated that the Safeguarding Policy complemented the Homelessness Policy. The Homelessness Strategy was due to be reviewed by the Committee at its next meeting and this included the Council’s homelessness prevention duty.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning referred to the Members handbook and having numbers contained in a flow chart. The Community Engagement Policy Development Officer said that information had been put on to an easy to carry credit card with contact information for children’s safeguarding on one side and adults safeguarding on the other. Members asked if these could be circulated to all Members of the Council.
Ø Action Note
The Community Engagement Policy Development Officer to circulate the safeguarding credit card to all Members of the Council in their pigeonholes.
Further discussion followed on the use of acronyms within the document and it was asked if these could be reduced. A question was asked in relation to the flow chart contained within the document, and Members requested that a copy be shared with them. It was stated that the process was the same whether it was an officer or a member wanting to report a safeguarding incident.
The Cabinet Member for Communities thanked the Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer for her hard work in putting the document together to make it suitable for South Kesteven. She asked the Committee to consider adopting the policy before them together with the requirement for Members to undertake the e-learning module in their first year of office. The Chairman reiterated his thanks to the Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer for her work in putting the document together. He proposed that Committee agree to the mandatory safeguarding training by e-learning, to recommend that the Cabinet adopt the Policy with fewer acronyms and that the Safeguarding credit cards be circulated to all Members of the Council. This proposal was seconded, and on being put to the vote, was agreed.
1) The Committee recommended to Cabinet that Councillors undertake mandatory Safeguarding training by e-learning.
2) That Cabinet adopts the Safeguarding Policy with fewer acronyms and
3) That the Safeguarding credit cards be circulated to all Members of the Council.