On behalf of the agencies concerned with child protection in Moray, the chief executive of Moray Council, Alastair Keddie, said: “We very much regret that the service our partnership delivers to children has not met the standards expected.
“Child protection is an extremely important issue for all agencies in Moray and we view the findings of this report with great concern.
“All partners in Moray are committed to the protection of children and take their responsibilities very seriously.
“We have made significant changes in our operations since the initial verbal report from inspectors in September. We have been working hard together ever since to ensure better information sharing and assessments of children at risk.
“As a partnership, we are all determined to ensure that child protection in Moray improves and that the commitment by everyone involved in our duty to protect children will address the shortfalls identified by inspectors.”
Chief Constable Colin McKerracher, chair of the North East Scotland Child Protection Committee which oversees child protection in the area, said: “We welcome this inspection and recognise the weaknesses it identifies.
“It has made a vital contribution to the NESCPC and helps us identify the areas where we can make improvements to child protection services.
“We have already put in place closer working arrangements between agencies and will continue to make these positive changes to deliver excellence in the protection of our young people."
In light of the recent HMIE report on Aberdeen City, a review is ongoing to critically examine the NESCPC. The review is being carried out by a team of senior managers from Grampian Police, NHS Grampian, the voluntary sector and the three local authorities – Moray Council, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire – and will report its findings in March.
General manager of the Moray Community Health and Social Care Partnership, Andrew Fowlie, said that significant advances had been made since the inspection.
“We deeply regret that some shortcomings have been found in elements of our work involving the protection of children,” he said.
“We have actively reviewed children known to our services and have been assured that child protection measures are in place and that children’s needs are being met.
“Any procedures that need to change will change and our staff will get the support they need.
“We will continue to work with frontline staff to find out what is working well and what needs to improve and will act without delay to make changes.”
Director of community services for Moray Council, Sandy Riddell, agreed that all agencies involved in child protection need to work more closely together.
“It’s clear that this report highlights specific areas for improvement and that urgent action is required to address these.
“The many actions we have already taken, particularly in assessments, information sharing and case conferences, are beginning to address the concerns of HMIE and, more especially, the needs of children that require protection.”
Steps which have already been taken by the partnership include:
· Extra social work staff based within Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin to improve communication between agencies
· Three new social workers recruited and a further three shortly to be appointed
· The new family protection unit in Elgin is now fully operational. Jointly funded by Moray Council and Grampian Police, the unit brings together police, social work and health professionals to work on improving child protection.
· Referral processes and interagency decision-making are being improved. All agencies have reviewed the way in which they make joint decisions for children and NHS Grampian and education officers will now always be involved in decision-making.
· Plans for clinical support for all health care staff to focus more on child protection assessment, treatment and intervention.
HMIE carried out an inspection during June and September last year to evaluate how Moray Council, NHS Grampian, Grampian Police and the Scottish Children’s Reporter work individually and together to protect children.
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