Four watchdogs to come together for children’s services inspections

15 Jul 15

Councils, health organisations and police forces are to face joint inspections of child protection services from four public sector watchdogs, it has been announced today.

The new Joint Targeted Area Inspections will be introduced by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation from this autumn.

According to a consultation document published today, the inspections will be used where concerns have been identified about local child protection regime, but it has been deemed disproportionate to undertake a full Ofsted inspection of children’s services.

Each will specifically examine how well local authorities, health, police and probation services work together in a particular area to safeguard children, with the first six to focus on children at risk of sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school or care. Further inspections will look at other issues by theme.

Announcing the plan, Ofsted chief operating officer Matthew Coffey said responsibility for protecting children did not rest with one service alone, so a joint inspection regime was also needed.

“We know that successful partnership working across a range of agencies is absolutely vital if children are to be effectively safeguarded. While many areas do this well, others do not.

“Our proposed new inspections are shorter and more flexible. They 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 to protect our most vulnerable children.”

Inspectors from across the four watchdogs will track and sample cases to assess both the progress and outcomes for children and young people at risk of harm, Coffey said. This is intended to complement the single agency inspections and provide a joined up evaluation of how well the agencies work together to protect children.

“We have listened to valuable feedback from frontline professionals and previous pilots that has helped to shape these proposals,” he added.

“We would urge anyone with expertise in children’s services or child protection to take part in this consultation to further inform how these important inspections will work in practice.”
Backing the proposals, CQC deputy chief inspector Sue McMillan said decades of inquiries had showed it was whole systems that fail children and young people, so inspection must focus on how organisations work together to protect them.

Inspector of constabulary Wendy Williams added it was vitally important the local agencies with a role to play in protecting children do so in a cooperative and effective way, and chief inspector of probation Paul Wilson agreed everyone has to work together for child protection work to be effective.

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