Ofsted hails Eileen Munro's Signs of Safety in domestic abuse cases

By Joe Lepper

| 07 December 2016

Inspectors have praised the use of Eileen Munro's Signs of Safety initiative in supporting children affected by domestic abuse.

Lincolnshire is one of 10 areas using Signs of Safety. Picture: Lincolnshire County Council

The initiative has been singled out for commendation following a joint targeted area inspection of multi-agency responses to abuse and neglect in Lincolnshire conducted in October.

The inspectorates involved, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation, said in a letter to senior social care, health, police and justice managers in the county that the use of the initiative had contributed to "the importance of direct work to support children who have experienced domestic abuse" being "well understood" across Lincolnshire.

Signs of Safety is a model of social work that was developed in Australia in the 1990s and is being implemented in the UK by Professor Eileen Munro, Dr Andrew Turnell, who helped design the approach, and Terry Murphy, former head of child protection for Western Australia where it was first introduced, to improve the relationships between child protection workers and vulnerable families.

Lincolnshire is one of 10 areas using Signs of Safety after the initiative was given £4.8m in Social Care Innovation funding in March.

The inspection team said social workers in Lincolnshire "are better able to understand the range of risks that children face and the impact that domestic abuse is having on them" by using the initiative.

They also noted that children were "sensitively supported to develop safety plans through the use of their own words and pictures".

Other strengths noted by the joint inspection team include "the detailed understanding" of domestic abuse issues in the county by senior managers across health, police and social care.

Access to training is also strong, with more than 1,500 professionals undertaking e-learning courses on domestic abuse, from April to September this year.

However, a number of areas of improvement were also raised including a plea for police officers to give social workers more detailed information about domestic abuse incidents.

Inspectors also noted a "significant backlog" in police submitting concerns about children to social workers.

Information sharing was also poor, with inspectors finding that in the cases it tracked that agencies "were not sharing the full range of information known to them".

"This meant that full consideration of risk did not always take place, and this resulted in delays in interventions," the letter added.

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