To receive and consider a report containing an update on the MASH project.
The Committee received a report containing details of the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which was set out on agenda pages 13-18. Graham Enright from Thames Valley Police addressed the Committee explaining the contents of the MASH update report.
Graham stated that the implementation of MASH in April 2016 had been a success. Graham pointed out that one of the main benefits of the project was that it offered a safe environment to hold conversations about safeguarding and this helped to speed up the process.
Graham informed that MASH was about sharing information between agencies; the project had been established and signed by the Police, WBC and Health. The Committee was informed that there were six MASH programmes in Berkshire and they all worked collaboratively. Graham stated that the MASH programme minimised the risk of any information being missed as well as accelerate the processes.
Graham stated that the business processes were working well and these were reviewed regularly at the Strategic and Operational meetings. The group also met with the Police across the six Berkshire Authorities to ensure there was consistent practice.
Graham confirmed that the MASH team in Wokingham consisted of three members of staff, including a supervisor who was an ex Police inspector.
During the discussion of the item the following points were made:
· It would take a long time to measure the impact of MASH, but Graham was confident that risk was being minimised as a result of MASH;
· Members questioned how to ensure that information was not missed when people moved to different areas. Graham stated that the Police had a system that linked all areas and were able to track down information about individuals, even when they moved areas. Graham explained that although the Local Authorities Children’s Services systems were not linked, any information fed to the Police was shared in the Police’s systems;
· Felicity Budgen, Interim Head of Social Care and Intervention confirmed that all agencies which had a role in protecting children were involved in the MASH project;
· Judith Ramsden, Director for Children’s Services confirmed that people were encouraged to report concerns about safeguarding in the same manner as before. It was for MASH to review this information and act accordingly;
· Felicity emphasized that it had been decided by all the agencies involved that there would not be a launch of MASH as this could cause confusion about referrals to the Local Authority. Felicity stated that the telephone number and processes had not changed, the public and partners were still required to phone the usual number and if appropriate the referral would be subject to the MASH process;
· Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Executive Member for Children’s Services reminded councillors of their privileged position in the community and urged them to raise awareness and to call the services if they felt in any way concerned about safeguarding;
· Members questioned if the numbers were widely available and known to the public, Officers felt confident that they were. However, Judith believed it was important not to become complacent and stated that she would take the issue of raising awareness to the Safeguarding Board;
· In response to a question, Judith explained that schools were aware of the procedures that should be followed if they had concerns about safeguarding. Also, there were school representatives in the Safeguarding Board. Judith reported that the recent Ofsted inspection had tested safeguarding awareness in the community and was satisfied with the high level of awareness displayed by the community in Wokingham;
· Councillor Lindsay Ferris expressed concern regarding the safeguarding of children from split families, where the names could change and as a result there was a risk of missing information. He hoped joint work by the six MASH projects would help to diminish this risk;
· Felicity confirmed that the six Local Authorities involved were monitoring the implementation of the project and testing best practice;
· The Committee was informed that MASH was being implemented nationally;
· Judith stated that MASH was not the only system in place to enable safeguarding, there were also other systems already in operation. Judith offered to share with the committee information about the MARAC map (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) which was another system used to help with safeguarding. The Committee agreed it would be useful to received information about the MARAC map.
1) The Committee has reviewed the progress update and requests a progress report at the September meeting;
2) The MARAC map be brought for the Committee for consideration.