Improve safeguarding for vulnerable children and adults

Over the Police and Crime Commissioner’s second term there have been changes in the partnership work around safeguarding children and adults at risk. The Local Government Review of councils in Dorset affected the ability to work strategically with partners and the PCC lobbied for better working practices, while supporting Dorset Police to tackle some of the issues. The PCC has welcomed the new more streamlined approach by the new local councils and health partners to focus on prioritising work to safeguard children and young people in Dorset. Both Dorset Police and the PCC have been keen to highlight the wider vulnerabilities of adults at risk in Dorset, including the threat from county lines drugs gangs. Arrangements are in place for the PCC to help partners learn lessons from Serious Case Reviews or Safeguarding Adult Reviews, in cases where a child or adult is seriously harmed or dies due to lack of safeguarding.

The PCC has lobbied and worked with partner agencies over the new arrangements for safeguarding children in Dorset. This included meeting the chair of the Dorset Local Safeguarding Children Boards and contacting the leads from the new Dorset Safeguarding Children Partnership to support the new strategic working arrangements.

The PCC has focussed on county lines in which gangs use vulnerable people of all ages to transport drugs across the country, and use vulnerable adults’ homes to deal drugs. The PCC hosted a problem solving forum, using experts from various agencies and charities to find innovative responses to the issue.

The OPCC has been working with the Dorset Community Safety Partnership (CSP), Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole CSP, the Dorset Safeguarding Adults Board and the Dorset Children Safeguarding Partnership to tackle the exploitation of children and adults.

This resulted in the PCC funding a Child Exploitation Transformational Lead to work across Dorset, identifying risk and implementing support for young people.

The PCC’s office has raised concerns that there are many adults, who agencies regularly come into contact with, with different vulnerabilities including drug, alcohol, domestic abuse and mental health needs.

These adults, often with chaotic and unstable lives, do not reach the high thresholds for social care and so do not receive appropriate support. As well as bringing partner agencies and voluntary organisations together to identify potential referral routes, the PCC has worked with Dorset Police on a range of interventions to support and safeguard people including:

Domestic Abuse (DA) – the PCC produced a news article in November 2018 to support the worldwide 16 days of action on DA campaign, highlighted the Cut Your Strings video that had national recognition.  

In January 2019 the PCC wrote a blog on the new DA laws and promoted the support available for people affected by DA.      

Mental Health – a range of initiatives funded by the PCC during his two terms including the Street Triage Scheme, the introduction of a Mental Health Coordinator for Dorset Police and the production of a Suicide Prevention Plan.

Women offenders – the PCC funded a scheme aiming to stop reoffending among vulnerable women. Led by the Footprints Charity, staff and volunteers will work with women who have committed first time low-level crimes. They will be referred by Dorset Police and will often have substance misuse or mental health issues or have been affected by domestic abuse.

The PCC is also piloting a scheme to introduce return home interviews for adults who have gone missing, similar to what already exists for young people, helping ensure they have appropriate support.  This is now due to launch in early 2020.

The PCC provided funding to Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, supporting their child sexual abuse training and mapping work. The project includes raising awareness of and improving responses to the issue – including providing bespoke training sessions to more than 240 frontline staff on the impact of trauma on victims and families as well as working with data to understand and monitor the scale of the problem across Dorset. It also includes partnering with the NSPCC’s PANTS campaign, featuring Pantosaurus to raise awareness of the issue.

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