Ofsted calls on Salford to improve domestic abuse response

By Neil Puffett

| 28 October 2016

Agencies in Salford have been told to improve the way they work to protect children who are exposed to domestic abuse following the first multi-agency inspections to look at the issue.

Leaders and managers in Salford were said to have a good understanding of the nature and extent of domestic abuse in their area. Picture: Salford City Council

A joint targeted area inspection (JTAI) of the multi-agency response to abuse and neglect in Salford by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP), found a number of positives, but flagged up some key areas for improvement.

Inspectors taking a "deep dive" look at domestic violence responses said agencies in the area do not consistently identify all risks for children living with domestic abuse, or fully assess the impact of domestic abuse on children and young people and their families.

"As a result, their work with families is not always fully effective," the inspection letter states.

"A common feature of cases was that when the victim was no longer in a relationship with the perpetrator, this was seen as a protective factor.

"Professionals did not always recognise that the abuse does not end when people stop living together and may in fact escalate. This means that risk is not always fully assessed."

Inspectors also reported that children's social care and the police sometimes make "overly optimistic" assessments about the capacity for change within relationships. This resulted in "delays in cases being escalated when risk was clearly increasing".

Meanwhile, although some good information sharing was seen at the area's single point of contact for referrals to early help by agencies including children's social care, health services, the youth offending service, and the police, known as the Bridge, it was deemed to generally be too variable at different stages of the child's journey through services.

"The lack of consistently effective and timely multi-agency information sharing means that assessment of risk is not always based on full information," the inspection letter states.

"There are missed opportunities to identify emerging and escalating risks at an earlier stage. In some cases, information indicating escalating risk was known to one or more agencies and was not shared.

"In other cases, detailed information was shared but did not include key partner agencies, such as adult mental health, so full consideration of risk did not take place."

Delays in the arrest of alleged perpetrators by the police were identified in some cases.

A total of 23 areas for improvement were flagged up, but inspectors also highlighted 19 areas of strength.

These included leaders and managers having a good understanding of the nature and extent of domestic abuse in their area, which was used to inform the development of strategic thinking and planning.

Meanwhile, helping children living with domestic abuse was seen as a priority for the area's community safety partnership and Salford's safeguarding children board.

Inspectors also noted that agencies had committed resources towards tackling the issue and there was a "clear determination to remove barriers to effective joint working".

The area was also praised for innovative approaches to dealing with the issue such as the young people's domestic abuse meetings, a multi-agency meeting designed to enable young people to access appropriate help and support to reduce the risk of them becoming perpetrators of domestic abuse in the future.

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