Exclusive: Radical shake up of child protection planned for Northamptonshire

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RADICAL plans are in motion for a major shake-up of the way child protection work is managed in Northamptonshire, the Chron can reveal.

Northamptonshire County Council has confirmed it is looking at the creation of a so-called Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) that will become the central, single resource for all safeguarding and child protection work.

MASH would bring together a whole range of agencies working in tandem including police, social workers, health and education professionals as well probation, fire and ambulance services. In areas where MASH has been set up, there are strong indications that information sharing has vastly improved and better decisions are made with regard to whether intervention is needed.

Crucially, multi-agency working on child protection has identified vulnerable children earlier than was the case previously. Equally, having a fuller picture means some risks can be flagged up earlier that may not have been identified by individual agencies.

A spokesman for the county council said: “We’re at the early stages of a project that aims to make the process of dealing with referrals quicker and more effective by improving the way our social workers share information with our health and police colleagues. By having them based together, we hope those professionals who are making decisions about vulnerable children have quicker access to relevant information held by all three organisations and can work together more quickly to react to that information.

“There are a growing number of similar operations in place around the country and we’re looking at each model to see what we can learn from them. We hope to have the children’s version up and running in a year and then follow suit with a system for the protection of vulnerable adults.”