Agenda item

Contextual Safeguarding and Extra Familial Abuse


Sally Nash, Service Manager (Youth Justice) introduced the report to the Committee and confirmed that there is a new, modern understanding towards safeguarding across the country, much of which has been learned from Child Exploitation as per the report presented under Item 3.  Childcare law frameworks stand up in a world constantly evolving.


It was noted that often parents are looked at the ones who should be  protecting their children but sometimes parents struggle and the presumptions behind the existing law framework put a responsibility on parents that they can’t undertake. 


The Committee noted that contextual safeguarding means that protection is beyond parents.  The abuse is extra familial; officers need to ensure there is a level of understanding for this and that it is every one’s responsibility. There is a role for community intelligence.  The Contextual Safeguarding website offers a lot of useful information and it was recommended that members of the committee have a look.


The approach of the Children’s and Families team at the council is to expand the understanding of safeguarding and not replace what is already part of the work we do. 


Following a question from Councillor Jerry Roodhouse in relation to the feedback from children and families, it was confirmed that Warwickshire County Council is currently using in-house feedback to ensure that the right approach is established.  It will be rolled out across district/borough/other partnerships when appropriate.  It will be a long journey; but once our own house in order we can look to broader partnerships adopt the same processes. 


Councillor Jeff Morgan asked if contextual safeguarding practices would ask a lot of the council’s social workers?  Sally Nash confirmed that it is a challenge to traditional social work practice; it is another, complex dimension.  The development within Warwickshire is to look at the internal system with training for staff.  Contextual Safeguarding is a complex world which demands experience and knowledge, but the journey has started.


Councillor Jill Simpson-Vince added that there is an inherent fear with parents that the moment a social worker gets involved with a family, the child will be taken away and this report shows that there is reassurance, that if the issue is outside the home, they will be supported. 


Councillor Brain Hammersley asked if the justice system should deter others with the current level of punishment?  Sally Nash stated that there is a lot of research in this area.  The key issue is the volume of money and material gain available to those prepared to take the risk.  The further up the chain you are, the less of a risk you face.  Our work concentrates on not blaming the parents but supporting them; while taking care to avoid victim blaming.  It is complex.  It is important to let perpetrators know that there will always be consequences. 


Councillor Marian Humphreys stated that she agrees with comments made by Councillor Jill Simpson-Vince; this is an excellent and positive report.  The work being done to get this right is exactly what should be being done at this point.  Councillor Humphreys asked if there was support for other children within the family and not just the parents.  Sally confirmed that there was; the council service is called Children and Families.  Officers take a whole family approach and that is something that Warwickshire has stood for, for a long time.  Officers work with schools and other key services for the family where needed.  There are protocols about what officers can and can’t share but where we can, we do.  The relationships with schools are consistently improving. 


Sally Nash finished the presentation and noted that all comments and feedback from the Committee were very welcome.  Everything will all be taken on board and updates can brought to the committee in the future. 


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Marian Humphreys and was seconded by Jill Simpson-Vince.   A vote was held, and the Committee voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation.


The Chair wished it to be placed on record that the Committee thanks all staff in Children and Families; and not just those on the front line.  The reports presented at the meeting have been excellent and there was clarity in the answers to questions asked by member.




That the Committee note these developments and approach within the Children and Families Services.

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