Ofsted praises domestic abuse response in Hampshire

Joe Lepper
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Social care, justice and health professionals across Hampshire have been praised by inspectors for their efforts in tackling domestic abuse and supporting victims.

A joint inspection of multi-agency responses to abuse and neglect, with a special focus on children living with domestic violence, conducted by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation, found "robust and effective" work taking place.

letter to Hampshire County Council's director of children's services Steve Crocker, as well as senior managers across police, probation and health agencies, the inspection team added that, across all partners, the overall standard of practice is "strong".

Inspectors were particularly impressed that senior managers were able to co-ordinate an effective response to domestic violence across the county's large geographic area, stating that "it is evident that leaders in all organisations are committed to the partnership and that they appropriately prioritise the protection of these children".

The placing of specialist domestic abuse workers in the county's family intervention team, which targets vulnerable families, was also noted by inspectors as being "an impressive and creative service that generated its own evidence of effectiveness and impact".

An evaluation of this arrangement found improvements in terms of domestic abuse for one in five families. This was "an impressive performance given that more than half of the families had historical long-term entrenched issues", inspectors said.

Information sharing was also strong, particularly between child protection professionals and GPs, and work to tackle domestic violence was found to be subject to a wide range of "high quality" audits.

Despite the praise inspectors noted some areas for improvement. Among these, they want to see health agencies producing more evidence that they are "making a difference" in domestic violence cases.

Inspectors also want to see adult mental health and substance abuse services routinely show how domestic abuse is impacting on children and presenting a clearer analysis of the risk to children when making referrals to social workers.

Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council's lead member for children's services, said: "This affirms my view of how high the bar is set by this [council] and our partners to help keep children safe.

"The willingness of all partners to put the needs of the child first, and work together at every level to achieve the best outcomes for children, is something I regularly witness, first hand."

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