Three sub-regional groups will be set up to oversee child protection activity in different parts of Lancashire when a county-wide safeguarding board is established in the autumn.
Currently, there are three safeguarding boards for each of the Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council areas. These will merge at the end of September to form a single Safeguarding Children Partnership (SCP) to match the region served by Lancashire Constabulary – a key partner in each of the existing arrangements.
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However, a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s children’s services scrutiny committee heard that three tactical groups for Northern, Central and Eastern areas will be established “to ensure that the voice of young people and families is heard locally”.
“We think [the new board] will give a lot more consistency to what we do across Lancashire,” Dave Carr, the authority’s head of policy and commissioning said.
The new arrangements come in response to changes in government legislation on child safeguarding. The SCP will be made up of three main safeguarding partners – the top-tier local authorities in the area, Lancashire Constabulary and the region’s eight NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
Other organisations which are required to participate in the new system and act in line with any local safeguarding agreements include schools, nurseries and probation services.
It is expected that district councils will be represented by their chief executives on the three tactical groups, something which was welcomed by committee chair Andrea Kay, who feared that the unitary authorities of Blackpool and Blackburn on the Northern and Eastern groups could dominate the proceedings.
“We’ve got to make sure that we have the right representation…and are protecting children in our Lancashire County Council areas,” County Coun Kay said.
Under the new arrangements, rapid reviews will take place of safeguarding incidents to determine whether further reviews of practice need to be undertaken as a result. Meanwhile, responsibility for child death reviews will pass to the health and wellbeing board from next year.
The SCP board will be subject to oversight from an independent scrutineer.