The Committee considered a report on the progress made in response to the recommended actions in the KPMG internal audit report on the Council’s safeguarding arrangements in November 2021.
The purpose of the report was to provide the Committee with the opportunity to examine the progress and activities undertaken in the context of the Council’s statutory safeguarding duties, and to advise and comment on the appropriateness of the draft Strategic Safeguarding action plan 2023-24.
The report had also provided the background to the Council’s responsibilities and its safeguarding audit commitments in the context of the statutory duties set out in the legislation and statutory guidance.
The activities undertaken, progress made towards target actions, and mitigations implemented in the last year were summarised in the report with more detailed tracking of targets and commentary presented in Appendix 1.
The draft Strategic Safeguarding action plan 2023-24, which was attached as Appendix 2 to the report, responded to the recommendations made in the latest statutory Section 11 and Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board (SSAB) quality assurance audits, as well as the outstanding actions from the non-statutory KPMG audit.
The Committee had been asked:
(a) to review the progress against the recommended actions in the KPMG Safeguarding audit 2021, as set out in Appendix 1, and
(b) to comment on the appropriateness of the Strategic Safeguarding Group Action Plan 2023-24 as set out in Appendix 2.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Julia McShane recognised the importance of safeguarding and the wide scope of the work to ensure that the Council was safeguarding those with whom it interacted and that it was meeting its statutory duties. The Leader also acknowledged, and was reassured by, the partnerships that the safeguarding leads had with the safeguarding boards, with various county and local safeguarding groups and district and borough colleagues, to share best practice learned from reviews and to ensure that the Council was meeting its commitments under the statutory safeguarding audits. The Leader also thanked staff, in particular those on the frontline, who had sound knowledge and always had safeguarding at the forefront of their work in safeguarding customers and residents.
The Committee thanked the officers for their work on this very important area of the Council’s work and made the following comments during the debate on this matter:
· In relation to Recording Safeguarding Referrals contained in the Safeguarding KPMG audit action plan (update December 2022) it was noted that a central recording system should be established across the organisation, which required an IT solution. In response to a query as to whether we could learn from other authorities in making the transition to such a system as smooth as possible, it was confirmed that there was communication and liaison on such matters via the Safeguarding Group. As stated in the report, the IT solution would need to meet all the accessibility, confidentiality and usability requirements and be corporately aligned. Officers were investigating the possible use of ECINS community safety case management system.
· It was noted that progress in the draft action plan in response to:
(a) an inconsistent knowledge and information sharing on latest practice and learning from reviews, and
(b) an inconsistent approach to recording concerns, assessments, reporting referrals and recording outcomes reliant on service-based records
had been, in relation to (a), to set up a Teams channel to host key information and support the Operational Safeguarding Group and, in relation to (b) to put in place an interim recording process and case review through a Teams channel. In response to a request for clarification as what the Teams channel actually involved and how the concerns were being addressed, officers explained that the Corporate Safeguarding Teams Channelsupported communications between approximately 90 members, including all Executive Heads, managers and anyone else dealing with safeguarding. In addition, Teams allowed centralised storage of key documents which could be shared amongst those members. In terms of the operational element, the Executive Head of Community Services currently chaired monthly meetings with of all the frontline staff who have concerns or issues or who have flagged a safeguarding concern and that group monitors where a particular referral has gone, and its progress through the system, and what needed to be done to ensure that interventions were progressed satisfactorily.
· In response to a request for some quantitative data in respect of the number and type of referrals and their progress through the system, officers confirmed that this could be collated and circulated to councillors.
· It was pointed out that there were a number of metrics around safeguarding which featured in the Corporate Performance Monitoring report which was now considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Officer to action:
To collate and circulate quantitative data in respect of the number and type of safeguarding referrals and their progress through the system.
Sam Hutchison, Executive Head of Community Services
Jo James, Senior Policy Officer