Currently there is a period of significant change to the role of LSCBs. Both the ‘Wood Report: Review of the role and functions of LSCBs March 2016, and the response from the Government were published in 2016. The reports indicated changes to the strategic and statutory arrangements for the organisation and delivery of multi agency arrangements to protect and safeguard children in their area. The Government’s response pointed to the introduction of a stronger and more flexible statutory framework.
In April 2017, The Children and Social Work Act (2017) received Royal Assent. Chapter 2 of the Act, entitled ‘Safeguarding of Children’ will affect the Board in three ways:
- The establishment of a Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. This panel will replace the existing national panel that looks at serious case reviews and in an essence abolishes serious case reviews as they currently work;
- Abolition of Local Safeguarding Children Boards;
- Changes to Child Death Overview Panels.
The Act abolishes the statutory requirement for an LSCB and deals with safeguarding arrangements under section 16: “Local arrangements for safeguarding and promoting welfare of children”
This section states that: “The safeguarding partners for a local authority area in England must make arrangements for: (a) the safeguarding partners, and (b) any relevant agencies that they consider appropriate, to work together in exercising their functions, so far as the functions are exercised for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children in the area.”
The safeguarding partners are clearly identified as:
- the local authority;
- a clinical commissioning group for an area any part of which falls within the local authority area;
- the chief officer of police for a police area any part of which falls within the local authority area.”
It states that local safeguarding partners must publish these arrangements and in terms of what the arrangements might look like, the only statutory requirements are:
- there must be arrangements for scrutiny by an independent person of the effectiveness of the arrangements;
- a requirement that all safeguarding partners and relevant agencies for the local authority area act in accordance with the arrangements;
- and at least once in every 12 month period, the safeguarding partners must prepare and publish a report on what the safeguarding partners and relevant agencies for the local authority area have done as a result of the arrangements, and how effective the arrangements have been in practice.
The next step will be for the key partners to meet and agree how this will move forward in line with the proposed new legislation.