Northamptonshire safeguarding chairman says partnership has not been effective enough

Keith Makin
Keith Makin

The chairman of the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board has said the county’s safeguarding partnership between the county council, police and health providers has not been as ‘effective as it could have been’.

Speaking this morning at the county’s health and wellbeing forum in Thrapston, Keith Makin, who has chaired the children’s safeguarding board since March 2014, said the public service partners charged with looking after the safety of Northamptonshire’s young people have been found wanting in recent times.

In front of a room full of senior public servants, Mr Makin said: “I want to be frank and say that I think the safeguarding partnership has not been as effective as it could have been. There are plans to strengthen that. I am pleased with the inter-agency partnership discussions that are happening.

“Safeguarding responsibility rests with health, police and all parts of the council.”

The role of the safeguarding board is to ensure member organisations work together and also hold them to account.

Mr Makin presented the 2017/18 annual report to the health and wellbeing forum, but the situation has now moved on in many areas. Since April 2018 the county council’s children’s services department had a damning Ofsted report which found referrals to social services were not being dealt with correctly and that social workers were ‘drowning in work’.

Mr Makin said the annual reports will now change and the one for 2018/19 will be published this summer.

Next month (May) two serious case reviews will be published into the deaths of two children who have died in Northamptonshire.

Chairman of independent body Northamptonshire Healthwatch David Jones, who is a former social worker, welcomed the honesty of Mr Makin and said while it was good to focus on progress, the failures need to publicised.

He said: “The partnership has not been working. That is the message we need to hear.

“There is still a lot of worry about partnership working. The way schools work with children’s services.

“If we don’t recognise that we are deceiving ourselves. We have to recognise there is quite a mountain to climb.”

Partnership working between Northamptonshire’s public services has been fractured over recent years. Speaking after the meeting Mr Makin said he did think improvements were starting to be made following the appointment of new police chief constable Nick Adderley and a new joint chief executive at the NHS Corby and NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Groups, Toby Sanders.