Independent Scrutiny and Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Arrangements – August 2022
This project was commissioned by the VKPP. Professor Jenny Pearce from the University of Bedfordshire Safer Young Lives Research Centre led the research with Iona Stratton (VKPP) as research assistant. Lorraine Parker (VKPP) was the Principal Investigator. Alison Thorpe from the Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) supported links with Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnerships, business managers, scrutineers and chairs.
The project provides a descriptive account of Independent Scrutiny in Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnerships (LSCPs) across England. It provides examples of who is scrutinising LSCP activity, giving some descriptions of what is being scrutinised and how. The funding did not allow for a literature or policy review of other work on Independent Scrutiny.
Working Together (2018) requires Local Safeguarding Children’s Partners to choose how scrutiny is undertaken, providing five paragraphs to explain the function of scrutiny:
- The role of Independent Scrutiny is to provide assurance in judging the effectiveness of multi-agency arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in a local area, including arrangements to identify and review serious child safeguarding cases. This Independent Scrutiny will be part of a wider system which includes the independent inspectorates’ single assessment of the individual safeguarding partners and the Joint Targeted Area Inspections.
- Whilst the decision on how best to implement a robust system of Independent Scrutiny is to be made locally, safeguarding partners should ensure that the scrutiny is objective, acts as a constructive critical friend and promotes reflection to drive continuous improvement.
- The Independent Scrutineer should consider how effectively the arrangements are working for children and families as well as for practitioners, and how well the safeguarding partners are providing strong leadership and agree with the safeguarding partners how this will be reported.
- The published arrangements should set out the plans for Independent Scrutiny; how the arrangements will be reviewed; and how any recommendations will be taken forward. This might include, for example, the process and timescales for ongoing review of the arrangements.
- Safeguarding partners should also agree arrangements for Independent Scrutiny of the report they must publish at least once a year.
Working in a permissive legislative framework brings opportunities and challenges. During consultation with local areas, the project team identified a strong desire from local partners to have a means of sharing practice and experiences systematically over a wide geographical footprint. This is not to promote one preferred approach but to provide an opportunity to reflect on the examples of others tackling similar problems, creating an environment where leaders and operational staff can expand their thinking, explore ideas, and reflect on progress to help them develop local approaches to best meet the needs of children in their communities.
Our intention is that these products will be considered by executive leaders in every partnership responsible for local safeguarding children arrangements.