Agencies to get eight days' notice of joint child protection inspections

By Neil Puffett

| 15 July 2015

Agencies involved in child protection work will be given eight days' notice prior to being inspected under a new joint inspection system being introduced this autumn, it has been confirmed.

From October local agencies will be subject to a joint inspection of the work they do to protect children. Picture: Arlen Connelly

A consultation published today by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation, reveals that agencies will be given notice in order that they can conduct a joint audit of a number of cases identified by the inspectorates for a "deep dive" element of the inspection.

In total inspectors will spend five days in local areas from Monday to Friday.

The inspectorates have said they want to conduct six inspections within the first six months of the framework launching in October.

The inspection system, first announced in February, will aim to evaluate the effectiveness of multi-agency work to protect children.

To do this, the inspectorates will look at the multi-agency response to all forms of child abuse and neglect at the point of identification or referral.

In addition to this inspectors will rate the quality and impact of assessments and decisions resulting from referrals.

Meanwhile the “deep dive” element of the inspection will probe the experiences of a small number of children and young people.

For the period between October 2015 and March 2016, the inspectorates want the deep-dive to focus on two specific groups of young people – those at risk of child sexual exploitation, and those missing from home, school or care.

From April 2016 deep dives will focus on other groups of young people such as those at risk of domestic violence, girls at risk of female genital mutilation, or older children at risk of abuse.

Findings from the inspections will feature in a published letter to the chair of the local safeguarding children board and the senior leaders responsible for the agencies inspected. It will feature a narrative judgment rather than a grading.

Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s chief operating officer, said: "The responsibility for protecting children does not rest with one service alone.

"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.

"We hope they will add to the public debate, support improvement and most importantly have a positive impact on the experiences of children and young people.”

The consultation will close on 11 August.

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