Watchdogs to unite for children’s service inspections

14 Jan 16

Four public sector watchdogs have confirmed that they will undertake joint inspections of services for vulnerable children this year in order to better assess provision in local areas.

The new joint targeted area inspections will be undertaken by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation from next month.

The four bodies will work together to rate the performance of services to identify, support and protect vulnerable children and young people.

Shorter inspections will allow inspectorates to be more responsive, targeting specific areas of interest and concern, while they will also identify areas for improvement and highlight good practice from which others can learn.

Ofsted’s national director for social care Eleanor Schooling said the responsibility of safeguarding cannot rest with one agency alone, therefore the new inspections were needed to provide a comprehensive picture of how several agencies work together in an area to ensure children are safe.

“The joint approach will allow us to act swiftly where we are concerned about specific issues in an area so we can ensure that every agency is doing its part,” she added.

“Equally, it will give us an important opportunity to look at good practice and really understand how local areas are tackling the challenges they face. We are confident these inspections will support improvement and have a positive impact on the experiences of children and young people.”

The inspection reports will set out what the local partnership and agencies are doing well, and what they need to do to improve, as well as looking at services on particular themes. The first set will be focused on children at risk of sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school or care. Future areas of focus will be decided upon with input from key stakeholders.

CQC chief inspector of general practice Steve Field said the watchdog welcomed the opportunity to work with partners.

“Assessing how organisations work together to support and protect children and young people goes to the heart of our shared priorities,” he said.

“It allows us to test interagency working and identify best practice, promoting improvement across all services. The positive feedback from the pilot endorses this innovation that combines cross sector assessment with more in depth thematic reporting. It also provides an approach to joint work that can be used flexibly in future to assess for other topics or priorities.”

Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams added the partnership inspections would complement the work HMIC is already doing to examine how each police force protects children at risk of harm.

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