To receive a report containing a progress update on the Multi Agency Safeguaring Hub (MASH).
The Chairman thanked external partners for their presence to give an update to the Committee on the development of the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
Graham Enright, Manager for MASH Berkshire, Thames Valley Police addressed the Committee and the main points put forward by him were:
· The Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) was received as an opportunity to learn and receive feedback on the MASH programme in Wokingham;
· Wokingham’s MASH was new, it was launched in 2016;
· The JTAI identified that there was a tendency to receive information and pass it over; it was necessary to find a system to use the information to assess risk and make a decision in partnership;
· It had been recognised that improvements needed to be made in relation to joint decision making;
· There were six MASH projects around Berkshire and it was important that the lessons learnt at Wokingham be shared with the other Local Authorities.
Lisa Humphreys, Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care stated that the JTAI had found that the MASH front of the house was safe, however the changes that were needed to make improvements were not easy and required investment in IT systems and accommodation. For example, at the moment the reception was split over three rooms, which was not ideal.
Lisa Humphreys stated that in order to expand MASH and make it more efficient, it would be necessary to invest in an IT management system that enabled partners to link together.
Karen Cridland, Director Children, Young People and Family Services, Health stated that they offered support to Wokingham’s MASH three days a week, there was additional cover through the other Berkshire MASH’s. She would support colleagues in further developments.
Liz Stead, Head of Safeguarding ChildrenBerkshire West Clinical Commissioning Groups stated that progress would come with time, Berkshire Health covered six Berkshire authorities and the CCG commissioned the Health post within MASH.
Liz Stead stated that it was very beneficial to have MASH as it enabled conversations to take place and decisions to be made.
Councillor Miall felt it was important that the Council continued to invest in MASH and that the finance should be made available to enable the necessary IT systems to be purchased.
In response to a question Lisa Humphreys stated that there was no central database held by MASH, Wokingham used a system called MOSAIC for Social Care. Lisa stated that a true partnership should allow all partners to be able to see and contribute to the risk assessment. She envisaged such a system to sit on top of other IT systems.
Councillor Miall asked if there was such a thing as an intelligent system that was able to alert to possible risk. In response, Graham Enright stated that there was a project being run by the Home Office which offered predicted analysis, this was being tested.
Councillor Miall asked if it was possible to speed the processes within the Police. Graham Enright explained that the processes around domestic abuse had been reviewed and improved; where in the past it used to focus in adults, it now focused on children and information was being processed much more quickly.
Councillor Younis asked if the development of MASH was part of the 21st Century Council project. Lisa Humphreys explained that MASH was a different project which run alongside the 21st Century Council.
Councillor Blumenthal was curious to know how Wokingham’s MASH compared to other Local Authorities. Lisa Humphreys stated that Wokingham’s MASH was appropriate when compared to other areas and explained that an increase in referrals was not a bad indicator, in fact she expected referrals to increase. However, repeat referrals were a cause for concern.
Lisa Humphreys explained that repeat referrals were when a case was reported to the services, it was dealt with and closed, and subsequently another referral was received in respect of the same case. Repeat contact was when information was received from different sources in relation to the same issue.
In response to a question Lisa Humphreys stated that there were no targets in relation to these statistics. Members felt that it would be useful to monitor the number of referrals in future reports.
In response to Members concern over the funding of MASH, Councillor Ashwell, Executive Member for Children’s Services stated that there was £100k in the Capital Fund for MASH.
Councillor Soane believed that the voluntary sector should be involved in the MASH project. Lisa Humphreys stated that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) was the only voluntary agency that was allowed to take investigations. Lisa stated that although voluntary organisations were not partners in MASH, they would be contacted if needed. Also, they were well informed as to how to raise a concern.
The Chairman was interested to know how information was shared when children moved areas. Graham Enright stated that a system called NISHE was used by Thames Valley Police to record any issues reported. He stated that if a child protection issue was raised, this information would be shared and it was not restricted by Borough borders.
In response to a question Councillor Ashwell stated that he had seen MASH in action and believed that it worked very well.
Councillor Younis asked about the impact of the General Data Protection Review (GDPR) on MASH. Lisa Humphreys confirmed that this had already been considered and it would not make any difference as there were clear responsibilities in relation to child protection.
1) An update report would be submitted in six months, with a particular emphasis on the benefits seen since the implementation of the project; and
2) The report be noted.