Keeping Devon’s children safe – January 2014 update

Children’s Safeguarding Improvement Board update – Way We Work, Data management, Back to Social Work, CAMHS, Performance Data, Email lists and more.

Back copies of staff bulletins:


Following the meeting of the Children’s Safeguarding Improvement Board (CIB), there are four key messages from Professor Ray Jones, independent Chair:

1. Data management

Ray was pleased to see improvements in performance data and more control in the system.

Enquiries coming into the MASH have plateaued and are being managed more effectively. This has been achieved by more rigorous application of thresholds and risk assessment in the MASH, meaning a lower proportion of those enquiries being referred on for Initial Assessment, combined with capacity being focused on acting on and closing those referrals deemed to be for children at less risk. The number of open Initial Assessments fell to under 2,000 by mid-January.

Activity levels are also beginning to fall further down the system for example, in the number of open Core Assessments.

With referrals dropping, the indicators are that the right help is there at the right time. Partners were challenged to now be more confident about using links, especially across Early Help, to provide support for those who are most in need.

2. Back to Social Work

The restructure, which will be completed on Monday (3 February), was welcomed. In particular the added capacity it brings to strengthen multi-agency relationships locally. Ray stressed that as professionals we need to know one another more, create opportunities to communicate more fully and establish greater links across the system to work together more effectively.

3. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

On-going concerns were raised about the management of CAMHS. Our health partners reported that a range of detailed actions are in place to mitigate the risks to children and young people including the appointment of case managers, agreement of a business case for assertive outreach services and a review of the care pathway.

The Wessex House unit in Bridgewater will also be re-opened, although it will be a few months before beds become available.

Despite these actions, the pace of change required continues to leave children and young people at risk with acute hospital admission being the default position. Many young people are being treated far from home and there is sustained pressure on the service. Partners were urged to continue their work to address these issues.

4. Performance Data

For the next CIB, Ray requested wider performance data from all partners to ensure a more accurate picture across the child protection system.

Partners’ update:


Our education partners reported much better and more consistent feedback from the MASH following a referral; 121As are coming into the schools much more consistently and there is more organisation in the targeted families programme.


The Force Safeguarding Vulnerable People Strategic Board will now meet on a monthly rather than quarterly basis and will address priority areas such as domestic abuse and sexual offences. Below the Board will be a Safeguarding Improvement Group which will ensure decisions are acted upon and will drive performance.