If you have serious concerns about a child or young person, or if you need help parenting your child you can call (Devon) 0345 155 1071 or (Torbay) 01803 208100.

Most children go through their young lives needing only the help and support given by their parents, their wider circle of family and friends and a range of universal services, such as nurseries, schools, GP surgeries, youth centres and faith and community groups.

However, there can be times when some extra help is needed to secure a child’s welfare. The DSCB’s Early Help strategy aims to protect children or young people at the first signs of need. You can read more about Early Help here.

Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility

If you work with children, young people and their families or carers you have a responsibility to safeguard. These golden rules will make everyone SAFER

Share information

  • Communicate concerns across agencies involved with the child and family.
  • Attend and participate in conferences, core groups, reviews and meetings.
  • Do not use data protection as a barrier.
  • Seek advice if in doubt.
  • Record your decision as to why you share or do not share information.

Assess risk

  • Always be child-centred in assessments.
  • Use evidence to analyse risk and protective factors.
  • Maintain a multi-agency focus, include all children, read the history and identify recurring patterns.

Focus on the child

  • Use multi-agency guidance policy and procedures.
  • Record the child’s wishes feelings and behaviour.
  • Listen to what the child is saying.
  • Do not take adult explanation of injuries at face value; have the confidence to challenge.
  • Plans for children must be SMART.

Evidence all decision making

  • All professions must know who to go to with safeguarding concerns.
  • Supervision must be regular and robust.
  • Managers must have regular oversight of case files.

Recording is paramount

  • Records must be legible, accurate, dated, and signed.
  • Records must contain up to date information about the child.
  • Share records as appropriate.

Five key points about information sharing

Explain to people openly and honestly what information you will share, with whom and why. The only time that you should not do this is if letting them know may leave someone at risk of significant harm.

You should respect the wishes of family members if they do not want information shared unless someone will be placed at risk of significant harm if you don’t share the information.

If in doubt speak to your manager or have a general discussion with children’s services, by which we mean, one where you do not necessarily share the name of the family.

Make sure that the information that you are sharing is accurate, up to date, necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it and only shared with those who need to know it. The information should also be shared securely. Having decided to share information you need not tell everyone everything.

You should always record the reason for your decision; whether you shared the information or not.

(SWCPP, 2014)

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is the central resource for the Devon Local Authority area receiving all serious safeguarding and child protection enquiries.

The MASH is staffed with professionals from a range of agencies including police, probation, fire, ambulance, health, education and social care. These professionals share information to ensure early identification of potential significant harm, and trigger interventions to prevent further harm to children.

MASH staff review information from every agency and use this to decide the most appropriate intervention to respond to the child’s identified needs. Where appropriate, the MASH team  will immediately trigger interventions to the child or young person and their family to prevent harm.

MASH is located next to the Early Help Coordination Centre to enable information to pass across all level of enquiries and safeguarding procedures.

Working together in this way ensures that agencies can appropriately share information and respond to a child’s needs quickly and efficiently. The MASH has resulted in more effective and earlier identification of vulnerable children. It has reduced the number of different professionals being involved, while keeping the most appropriate professional to deliver interventions to meet the needs identified in any particular case. It has avoided unnecessary duplication and visits, and simplified processes. It has also improved communication between professionals.

For more information about MASH and about referring a child click here.

The Multi-Agency safeguarding hub has been implemented to safeguard Torbay’s children and families. It aims to provide the highest level of knowledge and analysis of all known intelligence and information across the safeguarding partnership to ensure all safeguarding activity and intervention is timely, proportionate and necessary.

The vision is to identify and make safe at the earliest opportunity all vulnerable people in our communities through the sharing of information and intelligence across the safeguarding partnership.

Torbay’s MASH aims to provide a more consistent, timely and co-ordinated multi-agency response to individual situations relating to welfare and safeguarding concerns to children and young people. The intent is to improve the quality of information sharing between agencies in order that decision making can be both more effective and more robust.

Objectives of MASH include:

• Improved safeguarding decision making at the point of referral;
• Early identification of harm and risk;
• Improved interface with Early Help Services.

Torbay MASH has been developed in line with and supported by Torbay Council, Torbay’s Safeguarding Children Board, Devon and Cornwall Police, NHS England, Torbay Safeguarding Adults Board, Torbay Probation.

Torbay’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) will provide information sharing across all organisations involved in safeguarding – encompassing statutory, non-statutory and the third sector. Essentially the hub will analyse information that is already known within separate organisations in a coherent format to inform all safeguarding decisions. All partners will work together to provide the highest level of knowledge and analysis to make sure that all safeguarding activity and intervention is timely, proportionate and necessary.

For more information about the MASH click here.

The voluntary and community sector (VCS) includes charities, community and voluntary groups as well as social enterprise organisations. In Devon, there is a multitude of organisations, from small local groups to large national organisations that help to enrich the lives of communities in a variety of ways. Their contributions include delivering services, advocating on behalf of a group or cause, encouraging self-help, advancing religious faith and practice, facilitating economic development and providing financial support to other organisations. Most larger, local non-affiliated organisations have developed their own safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure that they meet the requirements of Funding Agencies.

National children and young people’s organisations, including organisations such as St John Ambulance, Barnardo’s and Church of England all have organisational specific safeguarding policies that local groups / churches are expected to adhere to, provide structured policies and safeguarding guidance designed to ensure the safety of children and young people within these settings. This is supported locally by Active Devon and the County Sports Partnership.

There are a whole range of tools available to the VCS to support safeguarding practice for those organisations who are not affiliated to a National Association.

VOYC Devon are the organisation who can help with Safer Network material and Mark Goodman is the local champion. 

The most widely recognised governing body is Safe Network which has been developed specifically for small community and voluntary groups and social enterprises.

The Safe Network resources include the website that is continually updated to meet the changing demands from the VCS for an accessible, easy to use system that keeps children and young people safe. It is also supported by the Children England South West Regional Manager and a network of Local Champions.

Other examples include: