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Highland Life / News / Highland Council News / HMIe publish the report 'Joint Inspection of services to protect children and young people in the Highland area'

HMIe publish the report 'Joint Inspection of services to protect children and young people in the Highland area'

Issued: 4 May 2010

Scottish Government Inspectors had found that the performance of Highland's child protection services is 'very good' and have commended best practice across the authority.

A report published today (Tuesday) is part of the second national cycle of child protection inspections in Scotland. It says that the particular strengths of child protection services in Highland include the range of support services provided to children at an early stage, and the action taken to protect children when identified at risk of harm. The report acknowledges the effective communication between staff across agencies, and the encouragement given to staff to work together to further improve services.

The report states that "children across the Council area are benefiting from a range of support which is helping to meet their physical, emotional and social needs". It continues by saying that "across services, staff clearly recognise children who may be at risk. In almost all cases, when concerns about children's immediate safety are reported, staff take very prompt action to assess and reduce risks".

In particular, the report commends the implementation of new systems, as part of the Scottish Government's programme of Getting it right for every child, in which Highland has been the national pathfinder authority. The report states that "chief officers and managers have successfully led the implementation of new assessment and planning processes. Effective leadership is helping ensure all vulnerable children have a single plan and that staff from different agencies work closely together to ensure children get the right help at the right time to improve their lives."

In five out of six areas of practice, inspectors rate the performance of services as 'very good' and the final area is rated as 'good'. The quality of information sharing by police, the work done by children's services workers to protect families, and the involvement of staff in reviewing child protection procedures, are all highlighted as examples of good practice.

Welcoming the report on behalf of Highland's Child Protection Committee, which brings together The Highland Council, Northern Constabulary and NHS Highland and other lead agencies, Council Chief Executive Alistair Dodds said: "This report confirms the very good child protection practice that exists in Highland. We have worked closely with the Scottish Government to implement new systems and processes. Critically though, our child protect ion practice is effective because of the quality of our staff, effective communications, and good work across agencies. It is a regrettable aspect of society that some children will be at risk of harm. Our agencies work closely together and with communities, to ensure that such risks are minimised."

Northern Constabulary's Chief Constable Ian Latimer said: "It is very pleasing to note that the report recognises the excellent work which goes on between the agencies in this region, to protect children and young people. The report highlights the good practice around sharing of information at an early stage in order to keep children safe when identified at risk. Whilst the report is very positive, we must never be complacent. The safety and protection of children and young people is everyone's concern. It is not only the continued good work and co-operation between police, social workers and teachers, but the vigilance and care of everyone in our communities that we need to keep our children safe."

Adam Ingram, Minister for Children & the Early Years, said: "Highland's child protection services and practitioners are to be congratulated on their positive HMIe inspection report, which highlights the improvements made towards improving protection for the area's children and young people. Since then, Highland has become a test-site for the Scottish Government's new approach to supporting children and young people, Getting it right for every child, which aims to transform the way services for children are delivered and which has already been found to improve outcomes for them and their families through an independent evaluation.

"This report provides further evidence of how that approach can help better meet the needs of all children, including those at risk of neglect or abuse, by supporting and prioritising a shift towards early intervention and the effective joining up of services around children. This early support, joint working and communication is highlighted throughout the HMIe report as a key strength.

"We are now encouraging implementation of GIRFEC across Scotland due to the benefits for children and staff and also because of the more effective and efficient working practices this brings. We now look to Highland Chief Officers to build on their success and implement the areas for local improvement identified by HMIe."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme