Arun District Council is committed to protecting and safeguarding its community, especially Children, Young People and Adults at risk. This report sets out for scrutiny the resources for managing safeguarding and identifies the main categories of harm reported by officers.
The Safeguarding Officer explained that the report provided members with the opportunity to scrutinise the councils safeguarding function. It provides an overview of the categories of abuse, demand for the year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and how this has shaped concerns and emerging themes. Data is also provided to show referrals from council staff, specialist advice received, actions given and taken.
The Chair then opened debate on the item, inviting members to ask any questions to officers present.
Concern was raised regarding section 1.9 of the report that detailed the number of incidents of domestic abuse it was stated that it was alarming to see Arun had the highest figures across West Sussex. The Safeguarding officer explained that as C.I Bowman confirmed earlier in the meeting, this was a hidden crime and the data was based on referrals or incidents reported that police had responded to. She confirmed that once police have responded to an incident of domestic violence, an automatic referral to panel is made. The panel consists of key people from a number of services such as health, probation and police. The objective of the panel is to put in place a safety plan that sets out to reduce the risk to individuals suffering domestic violence. She explained that sadly the figures were a true reflection of domestic violence issues within the district, however, confirmed that there was a collaborative partnership across the services that work together in providing support where it’s needed.
It was asked what further proactive steps the council could take in providing support and help for individuals of domestic violence. The Safeguarding officer stated she believed mandatory training for all front-line staff to raise awareness as well as an ongoing training programme of support would be of benefit. She also confirmed that lockdowns during the pandemic did certainly exacerbate the issue.
The topic of communicating with residents on how they can report cases of domestic violence in confidence was raised, specifically, what more the council could do to improve on current communications. The Safeguarding officer confirmed various internal communication campaigns had been completed alongside a women’s safety event that enabled engagement with the local community. She agreed that a review of internal and external communication plans would be a positive action.
Further information was sought about the work the council does regarding temporary accommodation use in partnership with Chichester District. The Safeguarding officer confirmed that to help embed the Domestic Abuse Bill 2021 a small amount of funding had been awarded to local districts. After some consultation internally and with external partners it was decided to focus on those who were ‘fleeing’ and/or presenting to the Council for housing matters. This issue consists of many other needs that also require addressing from getting children into new schools, signing up with dentists, doctors’ surgeries, or any other community links. She confirmed that the council and My Sisters House had commissioned a complex safe key worker who would work with housing options officers for those individuals requiring temporary accommodation.
Finally, there was discussion relating to section 1.18 of the report, suicide. Members were keen to understand how the council responds to these cases and what reviews are undertaken when these situations are known. It was confirmed that regular reviews were undertaken, further training was also provided to increase staff awareness and confidence in dealing with future situations.
That it endorses the work of the Safeguarding function at Arun district Council and the work of its officers.