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Thematic Review: Physical Harm to Infants under 2

In a recent thematic review conducted by the Quality Assurance and Workforce Delivery Group (QAWDG), Devon SCP revisited the safeguarding of infants aged 0-2 years.

The review, spanning December 2023 to January 2024, assessed the progress since 2020 and focused on two partnership priorities: improving outcomes for pre-birth services and support service for infants, and enhancing multi-agency collaboration.

The full report and a learning briefing will be sent to all partners once the review has been signed off by the Executive, but a summary of the key details is available below.

Key Findings

  • Agencies are dedicated to infant protection, with frontline staff emphasising the need for collaboration.
  • There is a lack of clarity in safeguarding roles among non-frontline professionals.
  • Practitioners show limited confidence in handling concerns for unborn children.
  • Knowledge about the Devon Pregnancy Support Pathway is not widespread.
  • Strategy discussions are well-conducted at the Front Door service level but decline in effectiveness further afield.
  • General Practitioners’ participation in safeguarding activities is hindered by capacity issues.
  • The inclusion of non-statutory partners in strategy discussions is crucial for comprehensive safeguarding.
  • Multi-agency involvement in child protection varies, and cross-agency sharing of Quality Assurance findings needs improvement.


  • DevonSCP to develop multi-agency training for holistic decision-making.
  • Primary Health to ensure hospital staff, midwives, and health visitors receive mandatory training.
  • General Practitioners to increase their engagement in partnership activities.
  • Agencies to regularly share and update organisational charts and contact details.
  • Service Co-location to be considered for enhancing professional collaboration.
  • Family Hubs to integrate the recommendations from this report into their operations.

Focus on Male Caregivers

  • Children’s Centres and the HUGs programme are recognised for their inclusive approach towards male caregivers.
  • Midwifery services are working to overcome cultural barriers in engaging with male figures.
  • Health partners need to improve their systems to record details of male carers.
  • Police and Probation services are making strides in collecting and utilising data on fathers and male carers.

Practitioner Knowledge and Service Offerings

  • Interviews indicate a good understanding of support services, particularly the HUGS programme.
  • A survey points to a gap in confidence among Midwifery and Public Health practitioners regarding available support, suggesting a disconnect between agency leaders and frontline staff.

Post-Pandemic Service Capacity

  • Staff retention and information sharing remain challenges.
  • Initiatives like the Devon Pregnancy Support Pathway and HUGS programme, along with strategies for co-location and a mix of remote and in-person work, are fostering stability and cooperation.

Compliance with Working Together

  • Relationship-building is key to effective interventions.
  • Information sharing is linked to strong inter-agency relationships.
  • Understanding of procedures for pre-mobile child injuries and consent in referrals needs improvement.
  • Domestic abuse risk identification has improved, but safety planning requires further attention.
  • Emphasis on equality, diversity, and inclusion is recommended.

Moving Forward

Devon SCP remains committed to safeguarding training, sharing insights on domestic abuse, and focusing on equality, diversity, and inclusion. The partnership will continue to incorporate feedback from children and families in thematic reviews to enhance safeguarding practices across Devon.

Together, we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of our youngest and most vulnerable.