Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 6th October, 2021 4.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Contact: Fatima Butt / Jill Bell 

Items
No. Item

43.

ALTERNATE MEMBERS (Standing Order 34)

The City Solicitor will report the names of alternate Members who are attending the meeting in place of appointed Members. 

 

Minutes:

There were no alternate members.

44.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made for matters under consideration.

45.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Fatima Butt/Jill Bell - 01274 01274 432227/434580)

 

Minutes:

No requests were received to remove the restriction on a report or background paper.

46.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

The following referrals have been made to this Committee up to and including the date of publication of this agenda.

 

The Committee is asked to note the referrals listed above and decide how it wishes to proceed, for example by incorporating the item into the work programme, requesting that it be subject to more detailed examination, or refer it to an appropriate Working Group/Committee.

 

Minutes:

No referrals were received.

47.

Child Sexual Exploitation Thematic Review 2021 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

The Chief Executive will submit a report (Document “G” which contains Not For Publication Appendix C )on the CSE Thematic Review was commissioned in 2019 by the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, subsequently replaced by the Bradford Partnership – Working Together to Safeguard Children. The three statutory partners of the Partnership are the Council, Police and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and also a number of key agencies, designated as “relevant agencies” are also members. It has an independent chair and scrutineer- Jane Booth.

 

The review was commissioned in accordance with governmental guidance in force at the time and focuses on the response of the agencies in Bradford to Child Sexual Exploitation. Five specific cases formed the basis of the review, two non-recent cases of CSE which have already been in the public domain and the media and three more recent cases.  The review also includes a review of three more recent cases.  It was led by an independent author Clare Hyde MBE.  The review looks in detail at the experiences of five children.  It spans a 20-year period from 2001 through a range of political administrations and officers.  No individuals are named- the report focuses on children and learning.

The review was published on the 27th of July 2021

 

 

Recommended -

 

(1)       The Committee is invited to note the report

 

(2)       That Committee receive a full report in November on current work in relation to  exploitation of both children and adults and that this includes updated details of work in relation to the CSE actions in the Thematic review.

 

(3)       That the Committee commit to working closely with partners to deliver on the actions within the developmental action plan and progressing the extensive wider work presently on going in Bradford

 

 (Darren Minton - 01274 434361)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

1.    This Committee requests that a report be presented in December 2022 that focuses on the:

 

-       Work undertaken to date;

-       Progress against the review recommendations.

 

2.    That a Cross-Party Working Group be set-up from within this Committee to review the evidence against the actions that have been completed.

 

Action – Strategic Director, Children’s Services.

 

                                                            (Darren Minton – 01274 434361)

Minutes:

Officers from the Safeguarding Partnership informed Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee members that the Child Sexual Exploitation, (CSE), Thematic Review was commissioned in 2019 by the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, subsequently replaced by the Bradford Partnership Working Together to Safeguard Children.  The partnership includes the three statutory partners to the Council, Police, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and also a number of key agencies.

 

Members also learned that the review focused on the response of the agencies in Bradford to CSE in response to two historical cases of CSE, which have already been in the public domain and the media.  Officers also stated that the review included a review of three more recent cases and was led by an independent author and that the review looked into details at service responses to the experiences of the five children. 

 

Members of the Committee were keen to know if all the partnerships were working together.

 

In response, officers indicated that they were working together, record keeping was challenging as all the partners had different Information Technology systems and this is where the difficulties arose.

 

With regards to some of the key areas of work relating to agencies working together, agencies developing a long term plan and services being professional; it was felt by members that these were not new concepts at all in this area and should be already be in place.

 

In response, acknowledged this, but did state that this would all be considered as part of the assurance exercise.

 

Moreover, Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee members were keen to seek assurance from Safeguarding officers, that they would not again have to consider a report like this again.

 

Officers acknowledged this and that practitioners needed to learn from the dame recurring issues.  As well as this members heard that staff turnover was an issue and is central to this, along with first line management and quality of management; whereas managers need to be equally competent and that staff caseloads need to be reduced.

 

Members were keen to understand if there had been any change of CSE hotspots.

 

In response, officers from West Yorkshire Police stated that they would be reviewing this in light of the findings from the event recently held event with key partners.  Members heard that officers never really know the extent to which CSE is taking place across the District, but that they did monitor events. 

 

As well as this, there is also a three weekly meeting with Council officers and the Police looking at identifications of risk to CSE.

Members highlighted that some children are vulnerable to more than one category of risk and were keen to understand how this was being managed by the partnerships.

 

In response, officers indicated that they were working with agencies to prioritise this area of work, over other areas and that they are reliant on the agencies to deliver.  Officers were adamant that to make a real difference, the areas that needed to be focused on included poverty, deprivation and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Residential Children's Homes & Related Issues pdf icon PDF 104 KB

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “H”) provides an update regarding the current situation regarding the Children’s Residential homes in Bradford and related issues.

 

Recommended that the report be noted.

 

 

(Marium Haque – 01274 432955)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

1.    This Committee requests that the actions being taken to improve the Children’s Residential Homes, be presented to this Committee, as soon as possible.

 

2.    That the findings from the external review of the quality of provision across each of the Children’s homes be presented to this Committee in January 2022.

 

Action – Strategic Director, Children’s Services

 

                                                                  (Marium Haque – 01274 432955)

Minutes:

Children’s Services officers, provided members of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee with an update, regarding the current situation regarding the Children’s Residential homes in Bradford and related issues.

 

Officers also informed members that since June 2021, seven homes have been inspected, with three of the homes retaining their “Good” judgement.  The outcomes for the other four homes was:

 

§  Valley View – Inadequate, (previously Required Improvement).  This included a suspension of registration and a compliance notice.

§  Owlthorpe – Inadequate, (previously Good).  This included a suspension of registration and a compliance notice.

§  The Willows – Inadequate, (previously Good).  This included a compliance notice.

§  Wedgewood – Requires Improvement, (previously Good).

 

 

Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee Councillors were keen to understand why residential children’s homes, were not performing well.

 

In response, officers from Bradford Council’s Children’s Services indicated the reasons were wide and varied and that there was no specific reason. 

 

Furthermore, Officers   indicated that the right level of response and the timeliness of responses had not been good enough.

 

Councillors enquired as to whether concentration has been on other areas of Children’s Services, which has resulted in the Children’s Residential Homes area being neglected.

 

Officers replied by stating that this was a service that was not regularly discussed, but that there was a lot of focus on this area now, with it being regularly discussed at Directorate Management Team.

 

Furthermore, members highlighted that there had been issues with staffing in homes including sickness absence and what level of support had actually been provided to keep people at work.

 

Here, officers informed members that they were working with staff to get them back to work and helping them to meet the needs of the children, as well as having a wide range of services to support children in residential homes. 

 

Moreover, officers from Children’s Services stated that they were currently developing a Sufficiency Strategy and would present this to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the near future.

 

Members were concerned that there was still not set of forms available for Regulation 44 visits, as well as understanding what staff were saying.

Officers indicated that they had undertaken a staff survey and that they wanted staff to feel part of Children’s Services, as being considered just Residential staff, who do not feel part of Children’s Services.

 

Moreover, officers highlighted that Regulation 44 visits had pro-formas and each home had an action plan, whereas previously, there was no consistency in how each Residential was undertaking action planning.

 

Members did express their concern over the state of Children’s Residential Homes and that they were keen to see radical changes and improvements being delivered, to better improve the lives for looked after children.

 

 

Resolved –

 

1.    This Committee requests that the actions being taken to improve the Children’s Residential Homes, be presented to this Committee, as soon as possible.

 

2.    That the findings from the external review of the quality of provision across each of the Children’s homes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Work Programme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The report of the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Document “I”) includes the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2021-22.

 

Recommended -

 

(1)       That members consider and comment on the areas of work included in the work programme.

 

(2)       That members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they may wish to conduct.

 

(Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

The Committee discussed and amended the 2021-22 work programme.

 

Action:  Overview & Scrutiny Lead

 

                                                            (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)

Minutes:

The Overview and Scrutiny Lead presented the 2020-21 work programme.

 

Members heard that the work programme ad agreed by the Committee formed the basis for the committees work during the year, but can be amended as issues arise during the year.

 

The members discussed and amended the work programme.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Lead provided members with an update in relation to the Elective Home Education Scrutiny Review and members agreed on the next steps.

 

Resolved –

 

The Committee discussed and amended the 2021-22 work programme.

 

Action:  Overview & Scrutiny Lead

 

                                                            (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)