Agenda item

Rotherham Safeguarding Children Annual Report

To consider an update from the Rotherham Safeguarding Childrens Partnership regarding the 2022-2023 Annual Report.


The annual report reflects the partnerships commitment and achievements, as well as identifying areas that require continuous improvements, to ensure the Rotherham Safeguarding Childrens Partnership meet the overarching priorities of being Safe at Home, Safe in the Community and having Safe Safeguarding Systems.



This item provided an update on the Rotherham Safeguarding Childrens Partnership (RSCP) 2022-2023 Annual Report.


The Chair welcomed Laura Gough, Head of Service for Safeguarding Children and Families, Darren Downs, Independent Chair and Scrutineer of the Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Partnership and Laura Koscikiewicz District Commander at South Yorkshire Police. The Chair invited Darren Downs to give the presentation.


The presentation gave an overview of the following content:


·       The report was very comphrensive and celebrated the achievements made, alongside the required improvements and future areas of focus. There was a real strength in the quality of the RSCP and the engagement levels within it.

·       Performance and scrutiny were area’s of improvement for the RSCP, this included a specific focus on measuring impacts.

·       There was a focus on the wider partnership in relation to challenge and accountability, specifically within the voluntary and community sector.

·       Capturing the voice of children was a key focus, this would include inviting young people along to the RSCP day, to be held in November.

·       In relation to the previous year, there had been excellent inspection grades across the RSCP, which were good indicators of the direction of travel. The Evolve Team had also received good grading throughout the Childrens Services Grading Inspection. South Yorkshire Police were graded as excellent in relation to protecting vulnerable people.

·       The RSCP had consulted on future priorities and the report detailed the four future priorities for the RSCP, which were, exploitation, neglect, performance and safeguarding. Each priority had a sub-group that reported to the partnership, these groups would continue to evolve over time.

·       The RSCP had a focus on continuing to develop the inspection work for audits, such as quarterly dip-sampling activities.

·       Rotherham would be hosting Safeguarding Awareness Week in November; this would promote the work completed in Rotherham across South Yorkshire. The RSCP was also in the process of developing an annual learning event, which would take place early next year.


The Chair thanked the officers for the presentation and invited questions, this led to the following points being raised during discussions:


·       The reduction in child protection plans was due to an increase in early intervention by the RSCP. There had been high investments into the Early Help Programme, in terms of resources and training for staff and wider community groups. The family group conference process and family group meetings had also been heavily invested in.

·       Training was an area of focus, specifically around digital safety which continued to evolve. Regular training was on-going for the RSCP.

·       There was internal training completed by all individual agencies and organisations within the RSCP. For example, South Yorkshire Police had held specific training around digital awareness and spotting the signs of exploitation.

·       The RSCP had focused on keeping children safe at home, safe in communities and ensuring safe systems. There had been situations where keeping a child safe within their home had been a better outcome in the long term for the child. Keeping a child within their home had sometimes increased risk and the RSCP role was to provide the family with the relevant guidance and support to manage that risk. The latest figures showed that out of all the children on child protection plans, only one had evolved to a looked after child. This highlighted that the management within the community and within the home was working effectively.

·       The RSCP had committed to dip-sampling individual cases on a quarterly basis, to continue learning from experiences and ensure improvements.

·       In Rotherham, organisations were very good at working together to keep children safe. There were several groups that worked together to keep children safe. For example, children in need were supported by a team across the RSCP, children on child protection plans were supported by a core group and high-risk children were supported by MACE. This had a significant impact on the reduction of child protection numbers.

·       The number of repeat children missing from home was much lower in Rotherham, than in the rest of South Yorkshire. The number of high-risk children missing from home was also much lower than statistical neighbours. This was because the RSCP identified needs and vulnerabilities earlier and placed a multi-agency response around the child to reduce potential harms.

·       The service had now recruited to the post of Safeguarding Education Lead, to ensure children are kept safe in Education.

·       The Local Government Association was currently working towards the development of a register of children who are being electively home educated, this would make it easier for safeguarding checks to be completed.

·       There were on-going changes in the guidance and legislation, an example was provided that the Working Together Review and Refresh would be released in the near future, this would provide further clarity around the thresholds and legal responsibilities.

·       The report discussed ‘a disconnect with health colleagues’ this related to the threshold for risk of significant harm, which was not always in alignment with social care. Clarification was provided that this was in relation to the application and definition of thresholds. The Healthcare Service was a complex system with many different specialisms, the definition of ‘significant harm’ to one medical professional differed to another medical professional’s definition. Therefore, meeting the threshold of ‘significant harm’ would sometimes be dependent on which part of the Healthcare Service an individual visited. Work was being completed within the Healthcare System to ensure the threshold was applied equally across all services.

·       The MASH Baby Clinic that was set up on a temporary basis to manage thresholds and ensure early identification, was now continuing as a permanent measure.

·       The RSCP would always continue their gold standard response to child sexual exploitation. The response to child sexual exploitation was identified as gold standard by His Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Ofsted. The Policing Advisor to the Prime Minister visited the Evolve Team and advised that the work delivered by the team was a best practise model. South Yorkshire Police were now applying the Evolve Model developed in Rotherham, to Barnsley, Sheffield, and Doncaster.

·       The neglect subgroup was working on understanding what areas of neglect were showing the biggest increases, to establish prioritisation of those identified areas. The cost-of-living crisis was discussed at the Wider Partnership, it was noted that the healthcare service and voluntary sector both had roles to pay regarding neglect and the cost-of-living crisis. Safeguarding Awareness Week would involve discussions around the cost-of-living crisis and information on what support was available. South Yorkshire Police had also completed training with all officers to ensure they were re-educated on the cost-of-living crisis, this enabled officers to complete assessments which identified the support and help that was required.

·       Neurodiversity was an area for the partnership to track and to improve the understanding across the RSCP and wider professionals.

·       The safeguarding and education sub-group would focus on the voice of the child and the school. A high number of referrals and information around exploitation were provided by peers. This was positive as it highlighted the good work of the education programmes across Rotherham, such as Crucial Crew.


Resolved: That

1)    The Improving Lives Select Commission accept the report and note the progress made.

2)    The Improving Lives Select Commission requested feedback following the conclusion of the Safeguarding Awareness Week which was taking place in November in Rotherham.

3)    The Improving Lives Select Commission welcomed the opportunity to visit the MASH hub, date to be confirmed.

4)    The Improving Lives Select Commission requested an off agenda briefing to provide more detailed information regarding the Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Partnership 3-year plan (2023-2026).





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