The Children’s Society (TCS)in partnership with the NWG Exploitation Response Unit (NWG Network) have recently collaborated in the development of a missing children response assessment tool to help local safeguarding partnerships review their missing children processes and procedures, this was launched via a webinar (details below).
Having worked within this field myself I am only too aware of how hard safeguarding partnerships work to help reduce the numbers of missing episodes in their respective areas and also the intense amount of support young people need following missing episodes and the toll it takes on themselves and also their families, this work has been made especially difficult due to the current pandemic and the restrictions that we are all living under.
The webinar was hosted by Hannah Chetwynd from the TCS and featured two keynote presentations from Alex Bridge, a valued colleague of the NWG and a service manager from Southend Borough Council and DI Lynne Colledge from Northumbria Police as well as short messages from the TCS CEO Mark Russell and the NWG CEO Sheila Taylor MBE. The event drew attention from over 400 delegates from many statutory agencies such as Police teams, LA missing teams, schools and health colleagues as well as representation from the private sector including many from independent children’s homes and care providers from across the UK.
Hannah kindly agreed to share a link to the presentations which we have inserted below, please do share this link across your networks in order to generate discussions in your respective teams about your responses to missing children. Hannah also mentioned during the event the latest TCS report into missing children titled “First Steps”, a link to this report has also been included, we must learn from research in order to change our practice and keep children safe, the NSPCC repository of SCR’s has lessons for us all from previous cases of child abuse yet still key themes seem to keep emerging from SCR’s and the new format of reviews that highlight the need to change practice and learn from mistakes from the past.
During the development stage 12 areas from across the country kindly agreed to pilot the tool and provided feedback to Hannah and the development team about the 12 different sections that helped to shape and inform the final version of the resource which we are all most grateful for their efforts and commitment, one area fed back that they thought the tool was used as a “critical friend” during their review and other reported that the use of the tool led to actions that will enhance their current response to children who go missing.
Recently I was very fortunate to sit in on one of these review meetings along with my colleague from the NWG Steve Baguley and found the whole process and discussions that took place fascinating. The safeguarding partnership had already been working their way through several sections of the tool in previous meetings and had planned more meetings to complete the whole tool in order to allow meaningful, open and honest discussions to take place, the nature of this particular partnership allowed for the effective challenge and robust discussion, this I thought was excellent practice and demonstrated a commitment to the process rather than a simple tick box exercise. All of the questions were applicable but this group could not always provide answers at the meeting due to differences in data collection terminology, notes were made for actions for follow up at the next meeting.
As an observer I found myself wanting to pass comments about the conversation and the group were happy for me to give my views on some of their responses, one question, in particular, comes to mind with four of us all interpreting a question differently, this showed the importance of doing this exercise as a group rather than on an individual basis. Every question in each section was carefully considered and comprehensive notes were taken during the session regarding the decision-making process and clearly highlighting actions that were identified for future service improvement. This exercise reminded me what it is like to be working directly on the front line again and my appreciation for the work that all teams working in the field of missing children was fully renewed.
I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone involved in the development of this tool in thanking all of the pilot areas for their willingness to participate in the development of this resources and we all hope that many more safeguarding partnerships will utilise this resource to review their missing children processes and at the same time let us know how they get on and share their experiences.
Links to the tool and an information sheet kindly produced by Hannah are below;
As always, the staff from the NWG are always happy to hear from you as well as answer any queries that you have regarding the assessment tool so please do get in touch if you would like to pass any comments about the tool or have any questions to ask about any aspects of child exploitation.
Kev Murphy Safeguarding in Sport Lead NWG Exploitation Response Unit
01332 585371 / 07399 449045