Skip to content

Annual Report on Safeguarding Arrangements 2021-22

Message from the chair

A message from the Devon SCP Chair, Darryn Allcorn – Chief Nurse, CCG NHS

It is my pleasure to introduce the Annual Report for 2021/22, which covers the performance year to the 31 March 2022.

While the last two year have undoubtedly been dominated by COVID-19 and the challenges that have manifested as a result of our families and young people living through a pandemic, despite these unique challenges safeguarding issues and ultimately the wellbeing of children and young people have remained at the forefront of our collective approach.

Teams have continued to respond to these new challenges while supporting the delivery of essential services in a collaborative manner to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

In my role as Chair, the commitment to safeguarding, agreeing priorities and maintaining a necessary line of sight has always been inspiring. We have learned many lessons and have transformed many services as a result, and I have no doubt that the learning of the last two years will support us in continuing to work together, identifying at the earliest opportunity those in need of help, and ensuring children, young people and families are at the heart of everything we do. The safeguarding partners continue to grow through more collaborative approaches and remain in support of Child Friendly Devon.

1. Introduction

As we come through two years of a national pandemic, the impact on children, families, communities, and our staff has been life changing.

During 2020 to early 2022 we reset our focus with children and families to address coproduced priorities, acting swiftly through multi-agency incident management arrangements, to build community capacity and together support and protect vulnerable children and their families.

Impact was monitored by the Devon SCP Executive through data reports and regular Early Help and MASH analysis.

In the spring of 2022, we moved into recovery mode, with a focus on the way we wanted to continue to work together in the style seen through the pandemic. A return back to our usual business but better together, taking with us the commitment to partnership working, a refreshed vision and new priorities (See Appendix 1).

In order to understand the needs of children and young people post pandemic, the Devon SCP Business team produced a profile of children’s needs at the end of last year and updated this in February, to form a baseline of what was happening across services and what that was telling us about how children and families were managing.

Understanding the lived experiences of children and young people growing up in Devon has been essential this year we have developed a new profile Devon Needs Profile September 2021, reviewed in February 2022, commissioned a piece of research through SPACE ‘What’s it like living in Devon’ and shared findings from the SHEU survey (see Appendix 1a for a summary of key themes). This gives a concerning picture and will need to inform a new set of outcomes for us to review for 2022-23. This is key to understand where we are making a difference.

The Partnership is committed to work together in the recovery of individuals, families’ communities, staff and services. Holding the energy and commitment to working collaboratively and sharing a vision for children and families that provides require a whole family, whole community and whole system approach. Through this, we want to build resilience, act early to support and work together to protect children from harm now and in the future; supporting a Child Friendly Devon.

In response to new challenges and opportunities, we are thinking differently as a Partnership, about how we organise ourselves to work together in the most effective way.

Sharing strategic ambition that can lead an early response to support communities and families. Embedding a common relational approach across all agencies, where restorative and trauma informed practice is nurtured and delivered, building insight into lived experiences and tapping into potential for change. This will affect how we organise the partnership this year, to build on three areas of key activity to support an improvement of our safeguarding arrangements together.

We have already reviewed and updated our Quality Assurance process with the introduction of a new online Section 11 and updates to our approach to rapid reviews, we are resetting a greater clarity to focus on outcomes for children rather than for process.

New insight related to learning and new leadership across services has brought new perspectives for improvements to monitor the impact of the changes for children we want to see. With a greater focus on restorative approaches to equip children, families and communities with the tools they need to adapt to their children’s needs and know how to get extra help. Moving away from the language of thresholds to one that understands and responds to need (see Appendix 1).

Profile of Devon children and young people

  • 0-17 year old population: 150,000
  • Children in Need: 2,212
  • Child Protection Plans: 642
  • EHCPs: 5,613
  • SEN Support: 13, 624
  • Children Looked After: 812
  • Care leavers: 433

2. Achievements in 2021/22

2.1 Devon SCP Safeguarding Priority Outcomes 2021-22 Progress

In 2021, we set clear priorities for action in each main area of our activity, backed by specific plans and strategies.

  • Life Chances – achieve their potential with the opportunities to thrive
  • Be Healthy and Well – have the best start in life, stay well and thrive. With good information and specialist help when they need it
  • Feel Safe – be protected from neglect and supported when vulnerable
  • Be Protected from Harm – swift action to protect them from harm, abuse and exploitation

Strategy one

Life Chances: Babies will have the best start to grow and develop, safeguarded and protected from harm and neglect


  • Community sessions on Baby Brain delivered across Devon developing insight into baby development. ​
  • Midwives and Health Visitors clarified communication and pathway planning with shared protocols.​
  • Launch of the new HUGS programme, to identify and support vulnerable families with evidenced based programmes for the first 2 years.​
  • Awareness raising and wide communication on ICON and safe sleeping.​
  • Review and reset of the Vulnerable Pregnancy pathway including engagement of Adult LD services​
  • Practitioner events delivered to over 150 multi-agency staff on Infant protection and engagement of Dads. ​

More to be done

  • Still to measure the impact of the changes made. To complete an audit of impact of services for babies and their families​
  • Wider implementation of the use of chronologies, now on Right for Children but not used widely.​
  • Review of Devon SCP training offer, this will happen in the summer of 2022 to strengthen assessment skills, parenting capacity assessment and restorative approaches that support families to build on strengths.​

Strategy two

Be Healthy and Well: Children and young people will be supported early with their emotional wellbeing to prevent self-harm, suicide ideation and suicide


  • ​Relational models of working and Trauma informed practice implemented across Devon Schools​
  • Extension of the Adolescent Safeguarding Framework/Safer Me Training across Early Help and a model of whole school assessment developed​
  • Mental Health First Aid Training promoted for staff across services​
  • Supervision for schools offered through Babcock​
  • Thematic audit completed of children not in education to understand risks and highlight necessary changes for practice​
  • Suicide Task and Finish group established to address themes from reviews and analyse improvements, short and long term, to raise awareness and prevent escalating risks going unnoticed​
  • Audit of tools used in contact with young people shared across agencies working with children through the EHWB subgroup — findings taken through the education subgroup​
  • Training offered to schools through Babcock and Education services to raise awareness and support to address emotional concerns​
  • Work transferring to ICS Gamechanger, multi-agency programme of prevent and improve​

More to be done

  • Still to measure the impact of the changes made. To complete an audit of impact of services​
  • Wider implementation of the use of chronologies, now on Right for Children but not used widely​
  • Supervision for School staff is a priority for 2022/2023, this has been a core concern for staff to have access to their own support in order to support vulnerable children​
  • Wider circulation of the findings from audit and clarity of outcomes to improve school attendance and support vulnerable children​
  • Task and Finish Group work is ongoing into 2022​
  • Monitor the transfer of this focus to the ICS work, maintaining links to the Devon SCP​

Strategy three

Feel Safe: Families receive the right help at the right time to support their children’s wellbeing and safety and prevent problems from escalating


  • Audit of Neglect carried out in 2020. In 2021, there was an increased drive to deliver the GCP2 training across Early help and follow up practitioner sessions to check practice embedded. Evaluation completed showing progress with practitioner confidence and application​
  • Protocol for sharing information across LAs amended​
  • Review and update of the Resolution and Escalation procedures – with video presentation​
  • New training material produced regarding consent and information sharing ​
  • The police developed a video to raise awareness of Neglect, distributed across their workforce and shared across the partnership.
  • Review of Devon DVA strategy and a new Board established to fulfill statutory obligations under the new Bill. Launched with the remit of holding children’s lived experiences and safety at the heart​
  • Increased Early Help Training on Adolescent Safeguarding Framework and Safer Me assessments​
  • Multi-agency review of the Neglect Toolkit agreed still relevant

More to be done

  • Still to measure the impact of the changes made. To complete an audit of how this has improved children’s lives. Auditing impact and also gathering feedback from children and parents​
  • Testing of practitioner understanding of Consent, resolutions and escalation, information sharing​
  • Ethical framework for co-design and lived experience influence on strategy drafted but still to be critically assessed and plans for implementation developed

Strategy four

Feel Safe/Be Protected from Harm: Where there is concern that a child is at risk of harm/abuse practitioners will continue to provide support and seek extra as required, until they are satisfied that the child is safe


  • Review and update of the Resolution and escalation procedures – with video presentation​
  • Strengthened our approach to multi-agency rapid reviews with a focus on ‘the ways we work together’ and greater clarity of SMART outcomes that we can measure better in future.
  • Review of Supervision Training as part of the implementation of restorative practice approach across all services​
  • Web pages on restorative approaches developed on the Devon SCP, introductory training offered and sign up for the Exec on taking forward a restorative practice approach across all services​
  • Improvement plan progressed for MASH, engaged key partner through the Devon SCP, including revision of the Thresholds document to introduce Levels of Need to replace it​
  • Review of Early Help being completed​
  • Family Hubs plan and application made, but unsuccessful in acquiring additional funds​
  • Safest focused on harmful sexual behaviour, workshops delivered to multiple practitioners across services.​

More to be done

  • Testing of practitioner understanding of Consent, resolutions and escalation, information sharing​
  • Ensure that the new style of RR reporting and planning is implemented and monitored through the Practice Development Group
  • Roll out of multi-agency restorative supervision training including for practitioners​
  • Wider implementation of the restorative practice training​
  • Updates to Levels of Need to be consulted upon and updated across the partnership​
  • Again we need to measure the impact of how this work is improving children’s lives. Auditing impact and also gathering feedback from children and parents​
  • Agree next steps for Family Hub​

2.2 Feedback from Statutory Partners on Service Led Safeguarding Improvements

Devon County Council Children’s Services

  • Responding to increased demand as more children are referred in for social care assessments ​
  • Improvements in functioning of the MASH ​
  • Increased use of Early Help


  • Comprehensive data set
  • QA and audit framework ​
  • Staff surveys​
  • Beginning to develop more family feedback (e.g. in Early Help and Bridges)
  • Child’s voice in social care system​


  • Some improvements in management grip of children being seen following referral, and those at highest risk e.g. on child protection plans ​
  • Some improvement in quality of social work practice (audit, Ofsted etc) ​
  • Positive staff feedback in response to better leadership communications ​
  • Some feedback from families receiving early help services​

Devon County Council Education

  • Engagement with improved multi-agency working and communication which has enabled a joined-up approach to our work and keeping children safe
  • Resources and support provided to Schools, settings, professional colleagues as well as parents, carers and children and young people
  • Training to identify signs of abuse and vulnerability and what to do, when to report and signpost for support


  • Analysed data relating to attendance at School and reason for absence​
  • Record of children missing education or electively home educated
  • Record of Referrals for support due to mental health ​
  • Traveller Voice survey regarding experiences in education ​
  • Number of One Minute Guides, Podcasts produced and attendance at training and forum​
  • Bullying Prejudice/Hate Incident (BPHI) data analysis ​
  • Analysis of MASH data
  • S175 audit results and action plan tracking ​
  • Implementation of recommendations and tracking of impact ​
  • Number of Schools using ASF for self-assessment​


  • Collating feedback received from families and children and young people. Survey results
  • Training feedback. And elements of the list above​


  • Engagement with improved multi-agency working and communication which has enabled a joined-up approach to our work and keeping children safe
  • Resources and support provided to Schools, settings, professional colleagues as well as parents, carers and children and young people
  • Training to identify signs of abuse and vulnerability and what to do, when to report and signpost for support


  • A wider governance structure, data sets with the integrated performance reports, contract monitoring and improvement processes​


  • Ongoing development although seeing improvement in trajectories and recorded qualitative improvements​

Devon and Cornwall Police

  • Adolescent Safety Framework (ASF) Internal process to take research away from the Youth Intervention Officers by utilising the Intelligence Directorate researchers in building reports for the mapping meeting of the ASF​
  • Intervention Clinic. A project initiated in Exeter, East and Mid Devon to intervene with a young person at risk of crime and exploitation at the earliest opportunity​
  • Turning Corners Project, Teignbridge and South Hams. This is a multi-agency partnership early intervention and prevention approach to reduce the risk of young people in this geography becoming involved in violence and ASB


  • ASF The ASF has an internal police framework linked to quality of product and timeliness. There are various performance points that can be used to assess the process. Currently, Partnerships Inspector Lee Groves is in consultation with review and inspections to quality assure the process. Within the wider partnership, the exploitation hub manager has oversight of the process as a whole and this piece of work will link in with DCC holistic assessment of the process​
  • Intervention Clinic We have been awarded £10000 from the serious violence fund – OPCC – and this has been matched with £12000 from the Exeter University Innovation fund to review and feedback on the processes and framework to date and to support in the delivery of further work including assessment frameworks for young children and best practice.​
  • Turning Corners An evaluation framework is in place, referred to as the Theory of Change, that looks at the Projects 3 elements. This is overseen by Mutual Ventures, an external facilitator, who have experience with this sort of project evaluation and strong links to local Stakeholders


  • ASF Recording of each peer group conference is held centrally by the exploitation hub and analyst​
  • Review of the police internal process to date shows the process is being followed, increased quality of research products, better internal line of sight of risk in local areas ​
  • A review and inspection will be able to give more formal benefits once delivered ​
  • Intervention Clinic Full 7-month review has taken place which has shown a 74% decrease in reoffending for those that have been through the intervention clinic ​
  • Turning Corners It is too early to show an outcome in relation to elements Street Based Outreach and the Parent Support groups, however the feedback from the focused work with around 20 young people in the Moving up together cohort has been positive​
  • There is a reported improvement in their behaviour, in school, and they are not coming to Police attention so frequently

3. SWOT analysis


  • Multi-agency response to risk, harm and vulnerability during the pandemic to maintain contact with children to support safety and wellbeing (Incident Management Team Structure)
  • Through the pandemic, evidence of positive trusting relationships developed with children and families across the multiagency and community workforce
  • Significant take-up of partnership safeguarding training by a hugely varied workforce, so an appetite to understand responsibility to safeguard and support children
  • The Partnership is hearing the views and lived experiences of increasing numbers of children, young people and families from a broader range backgrounds


  • Some siloed working remains in practice and service offers across Devon are not yet fully equitable
  • Sufficient direct impact is not always demonstrable after hearing directly from children, young people and families
  • Development of practice across the MASH and Early Help
  • While there is positive evidence of its use, the Adolescent Safety Framework is not yet as consistently and widely as we would like


  • Continue to bridge gaps between Early Help and the MASH, establishing broad and consistent knowledge of what support is available to families at every stage of their journey
  • Expanding integrated co-located and multi-disciplinary service delivery
  • Embedding restorative practice across agencies to create positive and lasting change in families’ lives – continuing the roll-out of the Practice Framework and multi-agency training
  • Multi-agency support to strengthen child protection pathway, to improve engagement with families and sustain change


  • Recruitment and retention pressures across all agencies
  • Low staff wellbeing and burnout post-pandemic
  • Existing bureaucracy and high workloads may impact on ability to adapt to new ways of working post-pandemic, alongside meeting day-to-day service demands
  • Impact of learnings from audits and reviews not yet fully tested in terms of impact for children. For example, evidencing impact following the multi-agency neglect review

4. Leadership and Governance

4.1 Statutory Partners

Our Executive Board is made up of the following nominated Statutory Partners:

  • NHS CCG: Darryn Allcorn – Chief Nurse, Chair
  • Devon County Council: Melissa Caslake – Chief Officer for Children
  • Devon and Cornwall Police: Roy Linden – BCU South Devon Commander, new member

We have had two campaigns to recruit an independent scrutineer and are hopeful to have this position filled in 2022.

4.2 Devon SCP Subgroups

Details about each of the subgroups can be found on the Devon SCP website.

Our work programme is delivered through a number of subgroups. The annual review reports from each of the subgroups can be found here.

In line with new priorities 2022, we will review the governance and subgroup structure to bring greater clarity and focus on the three priority areas this year.

The subgroups have been focussed on achieving the three key priorities: building resilience, Early Help and Safeguarding through late 2022-23. As we have combined Section 10 and 11 arrangements under the Devon SCP Governance, the Subgroups of the partnership cover two focussed elements of Safeguarding and Early Help.

While the sub-groups have demonstrated effective multi-agency working, strong engagement from across agencies, and a shared commitment to learning the lessons together embedding impact in the lives of children and families remains our collective focus. As a partnership, we understand and acknowledge that the voice and lived experience of children and young people, lessons learned from the pandemic and recommendations from reviews, audits and workforce feedback have not yet led to positive and lasting change for children consistently and equitably across Devon.

Going into 2022-2023, the partnership and its sub-groups are focused on building on the strong foundations of collaboration, learning, and development to measure impact and ensure all children and families we work with in Devon experience improved outcomes in their lives.

4.2.1 The Practice Development Group (PDG) co-chaired by senior Police and Probation managers

The PDG is currently responsible for operationalising strategic aims of the Devon SCP and monitor progress and impact of the partnership improvement plan informed by reviews and audit.

The group has had several changes in membership and interim leadership through 2022-2023. In March 2022 members have agreed membership and new leadership and will start this new year with greater clarity

The Devon SCP, PDG have co-ordinated responses to five escalations this last year:

1. Infants at risk of Harm

Work plan to improve the vulnerable pregnancy pathway, staff awareness events, ICON and Safe sleeping information, HUGS programme, raising awareness of working with Dads sharing the ‘Myth of invisible Dads’ report.

2. Suicide and Self Harm

Task and finish group have developed a plan to strengthen awareness and practice through 2022-2023

3. Child in Care arrests

Review of scenarios and report of findings presented to PDG.

4. Sexually Harmful Behaviour

Report into route causes produced and co-ordinated response between the CSA subgroup and Education subgroups to support schools and improve response and awareness. Use of ASF framework as a tool to build schools insight and whole school planning. Early stages of development.

5. Neglect

A task and finish group was established to review the partnership response to neglect, review impact of training and review the toolkit. 64% of those trained and licenced to use the tool are now using it as opposed to 34% in 2020. 69% found the newly introduced embedding sessions helped with confidence to use the tools and resources in their practice. We are still collecting data in respect of how many families it is currently being used with across our partner agencies – this has proved to be a challenge. The group continues into 2022 planning an audit of outcomes for children across services where neglect has been identified.

4.2.2 The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Group Chaired by NHS, CCG Head of Safeguarding

Leads on the rapid review and oversight of CSPR, monitoring national reports and recommending updates and changed to practice to the Practice Development Group work this year includes:

  • Rapid Reviews to the panel (3 completed within 15 or 16 working days. Others taking perhaps up to 25 working days. These delays are Some referrals for rapid review are coming to the partnership before the initial 5 working days post incident)
  • Working together with Plymouth and Torbay partnerships to share learning and consider greater collaboration
  • Monitoring national research and guidance from national panel, disseminating information across the partnership
  • Strengthened guidance to those contributing to RRs e.g., letter to practitioners via their managers/seniors. Crib sheet for practitioners about review process.
  • Lessons from reviews published here.

4.2.3 The Quality Assurance Delivery Group Chaired by DCC, Early Help Manager

This group oversees thematic audit identified across partnership working where there are concerns to be understood and improvements to be made across agencies to support and protect children.

Work this year has included:

  • Completed ASD Review and Children Returning to School Thematic Review (learning briefing for dissemination and publication in progress).
  • Voice of parents captured well.
  • Voice of child present in table top audits and exercises.
  • Undertaking thematic review into Eating Disorders, Disordered Eating and Childhood Obesity from March 2022. Learning will be shared once completed.

Plans for future thematic reviews as agreed by the Practice Development Group:

  • Domestic Abuse – Autumn 2022
  • Front Door – Spring 2023

4.2.4 The Workforce Development Group Chaired by Head of Public Nursing

Devon SCP Workforce Development Vision 2021-22

  • 697 practitioners have completed the Restorative Practice e-learning module. Restorative Practice Framework and Introductory workshops designed. Restorative Circles and Restorative Supervision to follow.
  • Devon SCP Mandatory Core and Other Training and Workshops
  • Common Induction Skills programme specification written – to be commissioned March 22 to September 22.
  • Frontline practitioners’ workshops x 4 delivered to develop practice, confidence and understanding of theories. 450 practitioners attended.
  • MASH seminars x 4 delivered– 38 multi-agency partners attended.
  • Level of Need workshops with emphasis on MASH, information sharing and consent written with multi-agency partners. To be delivered from July 2022 onwards monthly.
  • Confidence in Child Protection Conferences developed to run alongside child protection/safeguarding training courses along with LGBT+ Gender Awareness and Managing Allegations in the Work Place/Role of the LADO.

A strategy for looking at the workforce development programme was agreed in December 2021.

Core values, behaviour framework, emotional intelligence, resilience and insight

  • Common to all working with communities. This is the drive and underpinning framework in all we do.
  • These are our common values.

Core skills, child communication, understanding development, curiosity, assessment, analysis etc.

  • Common to all in contact with children in all roles – also where lessons from RR influence.
  • This is the way we work

Core Knowledge, research, evidence-based practice, theory and experience

  • Specific to profession/service roles and responsibilities.
  • This is the what we do.

Supervision, leadership and support for wellbeing

  • A combination of core common skills and specific agency knowledge and expectations
  • Recruitment and retention strategy
  • This is how we are supported to do it well

4.2.5 The Child Exploitation Group Chaired by Senior Police Officer

The group has been exploring the impact of ‘critical moments’ in the development of problems, as highlighted in the national review and in a locally commissioned review. This influenced the work programme of the group and of agencies focus to reduce exploitation as a key these through last year.

Work this year has included:

4.2.6 The Child Sexual Abuse Chaired by Social Care Locality Director

The Group’s aim is to:

  • reduce Child Sexual Abuse and Harmful Sexual Behaviour
  • ensure those who have had those experiences have access to resources and help
  • achieve outcomes of upskilling staff in noticing the signs and knowing what to do.

The sub-group extended their remit this year to review and understand the increase in SHB, responding to the national report. Local research provided greater insight into the root causes and led to recommendations to develop bespoke services, greater understanding across schools and a practitioner event.

1,200 practitioner attended and 2,400 expressed an interest in further information and access to any recordings and resources.

  • The previous action plan was achieved, and then Children’s Society helped with a mapping exercise.
  • Work around workforce development and additional training resources
  • Aim 2 programme has offered 5-year license to access to a toolkit to rollout across the Devon SCP, led by Tina Ley, staff across the Devon SCP looking for help dealing with HSB. Includes Aim assessments, safety plans, risk assessments etc.
  • Joint commissioning proposal for bespoke service for a family programme currently being considered.

4.2.7 The Joint Commissioning Group Chaired by Head of Maternity and Children’s Services CCG

The Group agrees interagency commissioning priorities and responds to gaps in service provision to agree who and how to organise resources.

This year the group has reformed their work programme with the aim of better integration in 2022-2023. Deciding how to use the total resources available for families to improve outcomes in the most efficient, effective, equitable and sustainable way:

  • Optimising finances we are in control of and influencing other resources across the system (schools budgets)
  • Co-producing with parents and children and young people, as strategic partners through to individuals being partners in their own care
  • Understanding need and understanding the current system. Understanding performance versus systems ineffectiveness – knowing the difference to understand the solution
  • Being clear about outcomes and how we are going to measure these
  • Managing markets
  • Making best use of all resources, communities and linking with Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations
  • This will need to show impact next year.

4.2.8 The Connections Subgroup, temporarily Chaired by Partnership Manager

Connections – Communication and Engagement


  • Prevention – Completed ‘What’s it like to live in Devon’ Survey providing insight into the lived experiences of Young People. Which will form the next steps for our work; Established a Youth Forum which will develop into a network of young people interested in connecting with the work we do for children; Drafted an Ethical Framework document to guide us in our engagement of young people in a more meaningful and respectful way – following on from the Woods review.
  • Early Support – Established a Community and Voluntary network working towards the vision of supporting childhood – Child Friendly Devon
  • Safeguarding – Set up a task and finish group who are co-ordinating an action plan to address racism in schools and communities
  • Review and update of Comms Strategy – Infants care comms campaign (keeping babies safe), including support and guidance to help cope with a crying baby and to ensure safer sleeping for infants. Video options for core procedures – first produced is the resolution protocol.

Including improving the involvement of Children and Families:

  • Parent Forum involvement in Connection Group
  • Success in gaining feedback about how multi-agency services work together to support families and children for our Thematic Reviews has improved over this last year. For the ASD review, out of a possible 6, we spoke with 3 mothers and 2 children. For the Children Returning to School, we spoke with 4 parents/carers. For the Spring 2022 review about eating disorders, out of a possible 16 families, we spoke with 9 sets of parents and 3 young people. We are feeding back to parents on findings and recommendations, where they wish this, once reviews are completed.
  • Development of youth forums to connect young people to the work of the partnership
  • Engagement of young person in IS interviews
  • What is like to grow up in Devon research completed with young people ‘What’s it like living in Devon’ to inform the work of partners.

4.2.9 Early Help Subgroups

The Early Help Subgroups are connected through the Devon SCP Chairs Forum Chaired by the Chair of the Exec, Darryn Allcorn, Chief Nurse NHS.

4.2.10 The Early Help Improvement Board is Chaired by Deputy Chief Officer DCC Children’s Services

The Board stepped across into an Incident Management Team during the Pandemic, to respond to emerging need. Working with the locality partnerships to provide an agile response to support families together across localities.

2022 has started with a review of the Early Help Offer, an audit of need and a new improvement plan being developed led by Devon County Council in Partnership with other services.

On the 1st March 2022 The Supporting Families national team from the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) visited Devon to review how the Devon Early Help programme is progressing and supporting families to achieve significant and sustained positive outcomes. The team shared their observations of progress Devon have made against our supporting family’s milestones.

The wider partnership approach to Early Help was reinforced as partners described how they feel part of the Early Help offer and are committed to working ‘across lanyard.’ Devon is currently working with 4127 families across out Early Help system (May 2021).

Snapshot of Early Help in Devon

Early Help activity has continued to be considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels. This demonstrates the continuing pressures within family life post=pandemic, as well as the sustained engagement and commitment of partner agencies to work together to prevent further harm and strengthen families around children. The South and West locality represented 34% of all families discussed at triage during 2021/2022.

4.2.11 The Best Start in Life is Chaired by Public Health DCC

  • Family Hubs bid – Family hubs bid has helped inspire and bring the group together developing a shared vision
  • Support to generate the messages of ICON and safe sleeping (keeping babies safe) following learning from Rapid Review.
  • Helping Us Grow Supported (HUGS) Programme – new development in partnership between PHN and Children’s centres to offer a 2 year support programme for vulnerable families from pregnancy.

4.2.12 The Education Advisory Group is Chaired by the Strategic Lead for Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups for Education Services Babcock on behalf of the Head of Education and Learning, Devon County Council

The aim of this group is to contribute to the statutory duty under s175 of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and S11 of the Children Act 2004. To do this, this group have been overseeing the Devon SCP’s decisions and recommendations relating to education in schools and settings and ensuring these recommendations are implemented well and has the greatest impact.

The priority this year has been to provide support, strategies and confidence to school staff who have been managing the true impact of the pandemic on their children. The Education Advisory Board have played a key role in promoting safeguarding for the most vulnerable children by working in partnership with the other Devon SCP sub-groups.

  • 100% Devon SCP sub-groups have a representative from Education in their membership.
  • The Adolescent Safety training was approved by the board and rolled out to schools and settings. The EAG continue to monitor the uptake of training and in the next academic year will track and monitor the impact this training has had.
  • Responsible for the delivery of the 19/20 S175 audit actions and recommendations and now 100% of schools are compliant with their duty to submit the return as well as to provide annual safeguarding training. The impact of this means that children in schools and settings have trained and skilled adults who are aware of their safeguarding responsibilities and know how to keep them safe.
  • Initiating a survey to hear about Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and showmen (GRTS) families’ experiences of education and then developing a series of recommendations to improve their experiences which includes a GRTS awareness raising training module.
  • 100% schools were sent guidance documents, podcasts and training opportunities relating to how to identify signs of abuse and vulnerability and what to do if they have concerns about a child or family. This has included where to report a incidents and how to signpost for support. A particular focus has been on the following areas of concerns highlighted by the Devon SCP partnership:
  • Reducing the number of racist incidents (the board has recently approved an improvement to the way incidents are reported to the LA, which is now a more efficient online system allowing tracking and monitoring and the ability to link to Police data).

There has been a significant improvement in partnership working this year and the impact of this can be seen through collaborative projects for example:

  • 6 x joint training sessions facilitated between Police and Education
  • Joint development of resources e.g. ‘when to call the police’ flowchart for schools
  • PSHE – Champions network
  • Education representation on the MASH strategic Improvement board (this has provided a direct communication link between Education and MASH improvements)
  • Social Workers in Schools project
  • Health – SHU survey – the board has had input into questions for the survey
  • Youth Parliament – hearing the voices of children’s experiences and taking action

The impact of this work can be measured through the development of staff skills, confidence and understanding about how to manage and respond to the key barriers children in Devon currently face.

4.2.13 The Emotional Health and Wellbeing Group was Chaired by Head of Mental Health Commissioning (CYP and Adults) CCG NHS

The group completed a piece of work in response to the increased mental health needs identified during the Pandemic. They completed an evaluation of resilience tools and relational approach, then rolled out materials and support to strengthen the offer of emotional wellbeing and resilience in Schools. Work has now transferred to one of the ‘Game Changers’ as part of the ICS work.

5. Devon SCP Business Team Activity 2022-23

5.1 The team

5.2 Quality Assurance

5.2.1 Quality Assurance Framework

We completed a revision of the QA framework, this was completed and agreed earlier this year, implementation of the new framework begins in 2022

Included in the framework is information about using an online system created by Leeds Children’s Partnership for agencies to complete their Organisation Safeguarding Audits (Section11). After spending 2021-2022 researching ways to conduct this audit and then finding and agreeing the use of Leeds’ system, we will go live with this in June 2022.

5.2.2 Practice Evaluation

As referred to above, since April 2021 the Quality Assurance Delivery Group has undertaken three thematic reviews: ‘Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders who came into Local Authority Care’ (Summer 2021); ‘Children Returning to School’ (Autumn 2021); and ‘Eating Disorders, Disordered Eating and Childhood Obesity’ (Spring 2022, report not yet final).

Methods used to undertake the reviews included gathering a base of data and research both national and local, conducting multi-agency file audits, conducting interviews with multi-disciplinary senior leaders, facilitating appreciative inquiries and interviews with families and children.

The learning and recommendations have been shared with partners, briefings for managers and practitioners to use as a learning tool are in progress and will be published. Action plans are monitored by the Practice Development Group. Impact of the Quality Assurance Thematic Reviews will be tested through a schedule of ‘Challenge Sessions’, where group members, representing statutory and voluntary agencies, bring evidence to share and discuss. These sessions are a relatively new activity for the group and will be developed further throughout 2022.

5.2.3 Developing Impact and Outcomes Measures

  • Scorecard continued to monitor impacts on children’s lives through pandemic
  • Impact testing from evaluations – see below
  • Need analysis – updated in 2022
  • ASD review
  • Critical moments report completed on CE
  • HSB report
  • QA framework
  • More conversations with children and families via QADG thematic on Children Returning to School
  • HAF programme safeguarding support to providers and evaluation

5.3 Rapid Reviews and Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews

During 2021, eight Rapid Reviews were undertaken, and one Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review (LSCPR) was commissioned (due for publication June 2022).

The Devon SCP have set up a Neglect Task and Finish Project group whose priorities are to focus on Early Help, Child Protection and the ‘Front Door.’ This group will seek to understand the barriers to full implementation of the neglect strategy, plan how to overcome them and embed consistent good practice across the whole system.

A summary of recommendations can be found in Appendix 2.

Relevant information and guidance relating to case reviews published by the Devon SCP is available to read here.

5.4 Workforce Development and Training

The Devon SCP has provided over 12,441 places for practitioners in their training during the last 12 month period.

  • Workforce Development Summary and Review for 2021-22
  • The Devon SCP Workforce Development Vision 2021-22

SaFest 2021 saw over 4,129 partners express an interest in the event, accessing the SharePoint site resources and recordings. 2,383 delegates attended

Designing frontline practitioner workshops:

  • Four Frontline Practitioner Workshops
  • 331 practitioners attended from police, health, early years & education, children services, fire service, probation, DWP, Careers South West, voluntary sector and our safeguarding partners in Torbay Council and Plymouth City Council.
  • 450 enquiries and feedback prior to the workshops, who have now all accessed the resources and recordings.
  • Outcomes and impact of these workshops are monitored.

5.5 Funding and Support

The budget for the partnership work is covered by the three statutory partners.

6. LADO Annual Report 2021-22

The LADO Annual Review is available to read here.

7. Atkinson Unit

At the recent three-day Ofsted onsite inspection the inspectors who visited the home said that “children build trusting relationships with the adults who care for them. This means they are able to share information about previous experiences, which is appropriately reported to the relevant agencies. Information shared also informs individual therapeutic work with children. As a result, children increasingly feel safe in this home.

The report detailed that “staff are resilient and nurturing when children are distressed. There are daily multidisciplinary management briefings to share information. Consequently, ongoing assessment about the needs and behaviours of each child informs their safety plans. Recommendations are made about levels of risk and monitoring. Staff care is informed by what is working well and what staff are worried about for each child.”

The Ofsted report highlighted the holistic approach that Atkinson has adopted “as one team” across all aspects of care, education and health.

“A strong multidisciplinary approach means that children receive support across all areas. Children quickly build trusting relationships with staff. Staff are warm and compassionate and show a genuine fondness for the children they care for. Staff have a clear understanding of each child’s individual needs. Children are seen to seek the company and reassurance of the staff.”

An amazing achievement for Atkinson has been able to maintain these high standards of care through COVID and this is due to the commitment of the staff team.

8. Priorities for 2022-23

8.1 Partnership Priorities for 2022-2023

1. Building resilience – Identifying an area where we need to improve and working together to increase family capacity to respond to the needs of children.

2. Early Help – Shared understanding of responsibility to support early, understanding thresholds, working in partnership with families.

3. Multi-agency support for Child Protection – improving and sustaining positive outcomes for children on a child protection plan

The three priorities will be delivered through the lens of Workforce development, Relational Practice and improved risk management and decision making. We will monitor (taken from the March 2022 JTAI framework):

  • how effectively the front doors of individual agencies identify and respond to initial need and risk
  • the effectiveness of the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) (or equivalent)
  • how effectively each agency contributes to the multi-agency response, including early decision-making across early help, child in need and child protection
  • how effectively the local partnership, through its multi-agency safeguarding arrangements (MASA), monitors, promotes, coordinates and evaluates the
  • work of the statutory partners. The lead representatives of the safeguarding partners are the local authority chief executive, the accountable officer of a
  • clinical commissioning group (CCG) and a chief officer of police
  • the impact of leaders and managers on practice with children and families in relation to the front door
  • the timeliness of this work and the impact of the local area’s actions to improve the multi-agency response to children in need of help and protection

Measures will focus on impact on the changes we are making to improve children’s lives and outcomes.

8.2 Shared Key Priorities 2022/2023 for Statutory Partners


  • Retention and Recruitment
  • Confidence and skills to lead support for families
  • Trauma-informed and restorative practice
  • Strengthening supervision

Prevention/Resilience/ Early Help

  • Strengthening of inter-agency support and family networks to achieve better outcomes earlier – leading to greater numbers of children’s needs met by families and communities
  • Speed up access to the right assessment and support at the right time
  • Reduction in the statutory process

Improving lives

  • Young people will see services become more responsive and person-centred, working better together and towards common aims.
  • Child’s voice heard
  • Outcomes measured
  • Noticeable improvement to children’s lives

9. Next Steps

  • Agree a set of outcomes measures that focus on (for children and young people) to make sure they do well, grow and develop. These will be based on the JTAI criteria and our priorities for this year.
  • Roll out Restorative Practice across the Devon SCP members – set points of review and audit to monitor delivery and impact on children and families lives.
  • Reshape the subgroup structure to strengthen multi-agency accountability and sharpen focus on a smaller number of priorities that will be monitored and measured for impact.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1a

Between October and January, pupils from primary and secondary schools across Devon took part in the SHEU health and wellbeing survey.

The survey gives valuable insight into the wellbeing of pupils and is usually taken every 2 years. We have recently had the results of the survey and I am pleased to share these in the attached in case you have not yet received them from other colleagues.

The results of this survey provide some ‘pre’ and ‘post’ COVID comparisons and reflect the impact it has had on children and young people. In addition to the main headlines in the attached report, there are some additional findings below that may also be of interest.

Primary School:

  • 7% of pupils say they ‘never’ get a good night’s sleep, with 32% of pupils saying they only ‘sometimes’ do
  • 32% of pupils say they know how to see their school nurse if they wanted to
  • 47% of boys and 50% of girls worry about the environment; 46% of boys and 51% of girls about COVID-19; 32% boys and 35% girls about the future; 20% of boys and 24% girls about their weight or size; 30% of girls about the way they look
  • 30% of pupils had a medium-low or low self-esteem score
  • 37% of year 6 boys and 39% of year 6 girls said they had tried to lose weight to change their appearance
  • 14% of pupils said there has been violence between adults at home that frightened them
  • 49% of year 6 pupils said they sometimes felt lonely and isolated during COVID-19, and 53% found it hard to focus on school work
  • 72% of year 6 pupils said their household had enough food for everyone everyday

Secondary School:

  • 29% of girls do not want to engage in physical activity because they are not comfortable in how they look, and 28% because they are shy in front of other people
  • 8% of boys and 9% of girls said they ‘never’ get a good night’s sleep, while 38% of pupils said they only ‘sometimes’ do
  • 31% boys and 50% of girls worry ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a lot’ about what their future holds; 22% boys of boys and 35% girls about the mental health of someone in their family; 20% of boys and 56% of girls about the way they look; 17% of boys and 46% of girls their size or weight
  • 43% boys and 66% of girls said they have tried to lose weight to change their appearance (73% for year 10 girls)
  • 16% of boys said they ‘eat more’ when they have a problem that worries them or feel stressed; 29% of girls said they ‘eat less’
  • 65% of pupils know how they can visit their school nurse
  • 51% year 10 girls think there is pressure on young people to have sex
  • 21% of boys and 42% of girls have been picked on or bullied because of how they look; 19% of boys and 32% of girls have been picked on or bullied because of their size or weight
  • 27% of pupils said there had been shouting and arguing that frightened them or violence between adults at home
  • Year 10 girls – 15% had experienced a boyfriend/girlfriend telling them what to wear; 14% experienced hurtful or threatening language; 28% had a boyfriend/girlfriend who were angry or jealous when spending time with other people; 18% had a boyfriend/girlfriend who told them who they can and can’t see; 12% had experienced pressure to have sex or engage in sexual activity
  • 33% of girls had been absent from school in the past 12 months because of their period (pain or access to sanitary products)
  • 61% of pupils found it hard to focus on school work during COVID-19
  • 77% of pupils said their household had enough food for everyone every day during COVID-19

Appendix 2

Relevant information and guidance relating to case reviews published by the Devon SCP is available to read here.

Case: 1

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Injury caused to child due to neglect.

Recommendations include:

  • Agencies to develop a protocol for managing information received from out of county/international agencies who are concerned about a child’s welfare. NHS numbers will be assigned, and schools will ensure that the appropriate paperwork is completed.
  • Chronologies should be routinely used, and professionals should talk to families about their heritage and lived experience.

Case: 2

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Non-accidental injury (NAI)-U1.

Progress made:

  • Multi-agency review of the procedures for NAI have been discussed and agreed. New guidance signed off by GPs and paediatricians.
  • Staff are reminded of the importance of reporting on the entirety of parental comments as well as the context to ensure these are accurately recorded and shared.

Case: 3

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Injury caused to child due to neglect.

Recommendations include:

  • Audit to be undertaken of strategy discussions to determine whether information is gathered from relevant agencies and used to inform decision making.
  • Staff need to be able to respond to parents who have additional needs to enable them to participate fully in any assessment process. Families should be offered early help services when issues affecting their parenting capacity are identified particularly in line with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel publication: The Myth of Invisible Men.

Case: 4

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Injury caused to child due to neglect.

Recommendations include:

  • Agencies to develop a protocol for managing information received from out of county/international agencies who are concerned about a child’s welfare. NHS numbers will be assigned, and schools will ensure that the appropriate paperwork is completed.
  • Chronologies should be routinely used, and professionals should talk to families about their heritage and lived experience.

Case: 5

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Death by overdose.

Recommendations included:

  • Identification and support for children not in education, training or employment (NEET)
  • Staff to ensure that they are proactive in identifying Young Carers and are competent in signposting them to the appropriate support services. Young Carers to be added to the Vulnerable Patient Register at their GP Practice.

Case: 6

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Death of baby Under 1 due to neglect.

Review focused on the impact of emotional distress on parenting capacity. The CSPR group have linked the issues raised in this review to the Appreciate Inquiry (see above) to explore and improve perinatal, multi-agency communication and engagement with fathers.

Case: 7

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Death of baby under 1 due to neglect.

Recommendations include:

  • Staff consistently consider the needs of unborn babies when concerns are raised about siblings.
  • Referrals are made to the Vulnerable Pregnancy Pathway and family centres.
  • Providers to be reminded of the information sharing protocol when children are transferring to another provider and how to support parents to give consent to information sharing.

Case: 8

Synopsis/recommendations/outcomes: Death by suspected aerosol misuse.

Recommendations include:

  • Briefing for Devon children’s workforce to include awareness of cultural impacts.
  • Staff training and record audits to ensure that robust assessments are undertaken that consider the parent and carers physical, emotional, and mental health needs and their impact of a parent’s ability to care for a child; and ensure that sources of family and community support are explored, and early help support is offered.


Last Updated