Agenda and minutes

Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 6th January 2021 2:00pm

Venue: Meeting to be conducted using Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Lindop  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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There were no Declarations of Interest made.


Minutes of meeting held on 5 November 2020 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

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RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 November be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Customer Feedback and Complaints Service pdf icon PDF 195 KB

(a)  Children’s Social Services Annual Report 2019-20


Report of Cabinet Member for Children and Young People


(b)  Learning from Complaints


Report of Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

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(a) Children’s Social Services Annual Report 2019/20


The Committee considered a report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People (Schedule 1 to the signed minutes) informing them of the Customer Feedback and Complaints Service – Children’s Social Services Annual Report 2019/20 (schedule 1 to the signed minutes). Preliminary consideration had been given to the report at their meeting 5 November 2020. However, the Cabinet Member had undertaken to provide background details of its contents, including lessons learned from complaints, to assist the Committee in providing full and detailed scrutiny. 


The Annual Report had been prepared in order to comply with the Authority’s statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 Representation Procedure (England) Regulations 2006 to publish details of (i) the number of complaints recorded regarding children’s services; (ii) the outcome of each complaint made and; (iii) whether relevant statutory timescales had been adhered to. As such, it provided a historical snapshot of the Authority’s performance during the year.  


The Committee noted that during 2019/20 there had been a total of 324 complaints investigated through the various statutory and Corporate Complaints’ procedures of which:- (i) 124 dealt with under Statutory Stage 1 (Local Resolution) procedures; (ii) 12 dealt with under Statutory Stage 2 (Independent Review/Investigation) procedures; (iii) 1 dealt with under Statutory Stage 3 (Complaint Review Panel) procedures; (iv) 187 dealt with under Corporate Complaints Stage 1 (Local Resolution) procedures; (v) 18 dealt with under Corporate Complaints Stage 2 (Internal Review/Investigation) procedures and (vi) 47 investigated by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). However, there had also been 225 complements received by the Authority relating to Children’s services.


During the discussion which ensued, Members queried the Authority’s performance by reference to the above-mentioned statistics, the majority of which had shown significant increases when compared to those for the preceding year (2018/19). Stage 1 Corporate Complaints had increased by 49% whereas the number of complements received from service users had decreased by 6%. In addition, complaints referred to the LGSCO had increased by 62%. In reply, the Cabinet Member explained that many of the Stage 1 Corporate Complaints received had been in respect of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service. However, the backlog of cases which had largely arisen owing to staff shortages had both been addressed. Also, it was anticipated that the appointment of a new SEND Complaints Officer within the Corporate Complaints service would enable early resolution of issues, in the future, as they arose. Further measures were being implemented in order to manage expectations although complainants retained their right to refer matters to the LGSCO in the event they remained dissatisfied with the outcome of both statutory and legal investigations/reviews.


Members also raised the impact of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic on the figures for the year which they acknowledged was likely to be minimal although performance for the current year might be significantly affected.


In response to a question from a Member regarding some of the outcomes of the Independent Investigations/reviews included in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Elective Home Education pdf icon PDF 273 KB

Report of Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND)

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The Committee considered a report of the Cabinet Member for Education and SEND (Schedule 3 to the signed minutes) giving details of the Elective Home Education Service in the County during 2020/21.


Members were informed that under the Education Act 1996 all parents had a duty to secure appropriate full-time education for their children which could include ‘Elective Home Education’ (EHE).  However, the current legal framework did not provide a system for either regulating home education or enforcing education by a particular method. Instead, it specified a system for identifying and dealing with children who were not receiving a suitable full-time education. If a child was not attending school fulltime, the law required the Local Authority to ascertain what education was being provided and to take further action, if required. In addition, Local Authorities’ safeguarding responsibilities were the same for all children whether educated in school or not.


In line with national trends, the number of children in EHE in Staffordshire had been increasing year on year. This had given rise to concerns by the Corporate Parenting Panel over the potential vulnerability of EHE pupils. In response, a joint review had been undertaken by the Committee and Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee in 2018 following which it was recommended that:-


“(i) the Cabinet Member supports representation being made to Ofsted with regard to the mechanism in place to take account of the reasons for deregistration and, where there is a disproportionately high number de-registering for EHE, consider more closely the reasons behind this;


(ii) the Cabinet Member consider how staffing can be increased in recognition of the significant increase in the numbers of EHE and the consequent implications to workload and resources;


(iii) the Cabinet Member consider how this event (development of an annual event to celebrate the achievements of the EHE community) can be supported and facilitated and;


(iv) supporting the introduction of a registration scheme for all children of statutory school age who are or become electively home educated and ask the Cabinet Member to make representations and lobby in support of the current Private Members Bill introduced by Lord Soley on Home Education”.


The Cabinet Member highlighted that total number of children in EHE had increased by 1296 during the current year. This represented an increase of 537 over the same period in 2019/20 and whilst in-line with national trends was directly attributed to the effects of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the proportion of children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) had decreased from 82 during 2019/20 to 54 in the current year to date. Whilst the majority of children in EHE identified as British/English, 11% had chosen not to express their ethnicity, with the third largest group being Gypsy/Roma at 8%. Furthermore, according to EHE Population Vulnerability Indicators, there were currently 315 children categorised as a concern (educational or welfare) compared to only 29 cases at the start of the Educational Year.


During their full and detailed scrutiny of the Authority, the Committee sought  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.


Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board Annual Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Report of Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing

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The Committee considered a report of the Cabinet Member for Health Care and Wellbeing (Schedule 4 to the signed minutes) regarding the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board Annual Report 2019/20.


The meeting was attended by John Wood, the Independent Chair of the Board who presented the report on behalf of the Cabinet Member.


Members were informed that there had been 4,150 occasions where concerns had been reported that adults with care and support needs might have been at risk or were experiencing abuse or neglect. This was an increase of 439 (11%) compared to 2019/20 and was reflective of the national figure of 8.7%. Following an initial assessment, it had been determined that the duty of enquiry requirement had been met in 93% of concerns.


Of those subject to a Section 42 enquiry under the Care Act 2014, individuals aged between 75-84 and 85-94 represented the largest cohort (both 27%), followed by 64-74 (12.5%). An analysis of the general population in Staffordshire indicated that adults over 65 were disproportionately over-represented in Section 42 enquiries.


Neglect and acts of omission, physical harm or financial abuse continued to be the most frequent types of harm or abuse identified for Section 42 enquiries, accounting for 75% of all harm and/or abuse recorded. The proportion of people subject of a Section 42 enquiry whose outcome was fully met had increased from 80% in 2018/19 to 88% the year.


Members noted the progress made by the Board against their strategic priorities of: (i) Engagement and; (ii) Reducing Financial and Material Abuse. The Partnership had developed a range of methods to engage and communicate with people including the establishment of a website containing a variety of adult safeguarding information. There had been in excess of 58,000 visitors to the site during the year with the most popular pages being “Safeguarding Adult Reviews” and “What is abuse”. With regard to (ii) above the key focus was on raising awareness. Training had been provided to staff working at the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and Partners were sharing information on their experiences with incidence of Financial and Material Abuse in order to gain a better understanding of the problem Countywide. 


In full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued Members expressed concern over apparent discrepancies highlighted in the report relating to the:- (i) relatively low number of Safeguarding Adult Review Referrals (SARs) (5) during year compared to the total number of safeguarding concerns received; (ii) differences in the statistics for Staffordshire compared to those for Stoke-on-Trent and; (iii) ethnic groups who were under/over represented in the statistics. 


In reply, the Chair explained the Partnership’s robust processes and criteria used for determining whether a SAR should be undertaken or not following a report of concern. Only the most serious cases were the subject of a Review and typically these arose very infrequently. However, in the interests of transparency, all those cases examined by the Board’s Scoping Panel were included in the Annual Report, whereas the Care Act only required inclusion of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 294 KB

Report of Scrutiny and Support Manager

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The Committee considered their rolling Work Programme for 2020/21 (Schedule 5 to the signed minutes).


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That, with the inclusion of:-


         An additional meeting on a date and at a time to be arranged in February 2021 to consider the outcome of a Serious Case Review which had recently been published.


         Following the briefing notes previously provided to the committee, ‘Catch 22’ on the Agenda for the meeting scheduled for 1 March 2021 and ‘Domestic Abuse’ on the Agenda for the meeting scheduled for 22 April 2021’;


         ‘Contextual Safeguarding’ on the Agenda for the meeting scheduled for 1 March 2021’.


and deletion of;-


         ‘MTFS Reforms and; Assessing the “No Impact Claims”’,


the updated Work Programme for 2020/21 be approved.


(c) That the updated Work Programme 2020/21 be brought to their next meeting for consideration. 


Date of Next Meeting - Monday 1 March 2021 at 10.00 am, Virtual/On-line

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RESOLVED – That the date, time and venue of the next meeting be noted.