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Local Authority Designated Officer Annual Report 2020-21

1. Introduction

The statutory role of the LADO and national context

1.1 The managing allegations and concerns procedure applies to a wider range of allegations than those in which there is reasonable cause to believe a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. It caters for cases where the allegation or concern relates to behaviour towards a child indicating an adult may pose a risk of harm or may not be suitable to work with children.

1.2 The Keeping Children Safe in Education (2020) and Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (amended in 2020) statutory guidance provide the statutory framework for the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and outline the following criteria to be applied in terms of allegations and concerns about an individual are those that indicate that an individual may have:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children
  • Behaved or may behave in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.

1.3 These concerns may relate to either a person’s work/volunteering or to their behaviour outside of the work setting. The response to these allegations or concerns will involve one or more processes and procedures:

  • Child protection
  • Criminal investigation
  • Disciplinary procedures/HR processes.

1.4 This process applies to all individuals working or volunteering with children regardless of setting.

1.5 Every Council has a statutory responsibility to have a LADO who is responsible for co-ordinating the response to concerns that an adult who works with children may have caused them or could cause them harm. In total there are three LADO’s in Devon supported by designated business support (2.6 FTE). The Lead LADO (Operations Manager) in addition, also holds the Organisational Safeguarding portfolio, alongside management oversight of Child Protection Checks and currently leading on Contextual Safeguarding responsibilities under the Adolescent Safety Framework and Complex and Organised Process. The LADO Lead is also vice-chair of the South West Regional LADO Network.

1.6 The LADO works within Children’s Services and provides advice and guidance to employers, organisations and other individuals who have safeguarding concerns about the behaviour of an adult within the wider children’s workforce. Included in this group are volunteers, agency staff and foster carers as well as people who may be in a position of authority/oversight within religious, education or volunteering settings and have regular contact with children.

1.7 The National LADO Network has produced a set of standards for use across the country to develop consistency of practice and in Devon we have used these as a basis for developing our own Threshold Tool, Practice Standards and LADO Job specification that builds upon this nationally agreed document.

Regional context

1.8 The LADO service is committed to supporting the Devon Children and Families Partnership Children & Young People’s Plan by contributing specifically to priorities 1, 2 & 3 “Feel Safe” and “Protect from Harm”

1.9 The LADO continues to take an active role in the regional South West LADO network and attends monthly meetings to share learning and improvement. The Lead LADO is also the Deputy Chair and contributes to the National Network Forum information sharing and good practice dissemination. During this reporting period the Network have focused on it work plan priorities centred on practice and consistency across the region and are involved in leading the development and implementation of a Peer-to- Peer Quality Assurance Framework to assist in reviewing and developing practice in this specialist area. The South West regional group continues to develop with its prime focus to ensure that practice and processes between South West LADOs are consistent and complies with statutory guidance and the South West Child Protection Procedures. Additionally, the forum is used to share information, best practice and lessons learnt from each other’s professional experiences as well as learning from serious case reviews. This forum enables the identification of training needs and input into policy development at a local and national level. A business plan has been created that oversees the development of the regional activity.

1.10 A decision was made to structure this work within an Organisational Safeguarding Service, due to the increasingly broad demands of the LADO role in relation to secondary safeguarding issues around good safeguarding practice in organisations, reviewing safeguarding policies and procedures and leading on an array of complex safeguarding, This provides a coherent identity with a Lead LADO (Operations Manager) acting as principal and having the management of the LADO team.

1.11 This post is addressing the demands as outlined above. One strand of development is the Implementation of the Whole Service Review Framework, utilised already within Adult Services, to focus on Organisations were there maybe Safeguarding issues. The service has developed a shared Children & Adults Framework to adopt a multi-agency approach to initial Ofsted Inadequate inspections within children’s residential settings where the concerns are about Safeguarding. This ensures that immediate child protection concerns are responded to in a way that hears the voice of the child and safe practices are in place in a timely way.

1.12 Over 2020/21 this role has developed further, and the Lead LADO has chaired a number of Organisational Planning Meetings relating to safeguarding issues in residential placements and responding to cultural safeguarding issues emerging from the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ phenomenon These meetings have been fully multi-agency and have addressed weaknesses in practice, policy and procedures to ensure more robust safeguarding measures are implemented.

2. Profile of work activity

Referrals

2.1 In this reporting period, the LADO team has received 483 Notification referrals for the year April 2020 to March 2021. The same period for 2019/2020 saw a total of 674 – a decrease of 191, or 28.3%. The data shows that the busiest month for referrals in reporting period 20/21 was October, slightly ahead of November which had been the busiest month for the previous three years. Of note this year is the low referral rate in April. This is highly likely to be as a consequence of Coronavirus and lockdown when schools were closed. Whilst in August there was an increase comparatively to the previous year in notifications when restrictions eased.

a graph showing the number of monthly notifications in 2019-20 compared to 2020-21

2.2 The decrease is the most significant percentage drop in Formal Notifications over the past 5 years and reflects the impact of COVID 19 and the implementation of National Lockdowns. The monthly comparisons correlate with the three National Lockdowns and changes in working practices across the childrens sector; as professionals were having reduced direct contact with children and young people.

2.3 As we have moved out of National Lockdown’s notifications have increased, as identified in February and March 2021, whereby referrals have matched or exceeded those of previous reporting years. The data indicates a steady rise in concerns with professionals struggling in a COVID informed working environment. This increase trend has been identified in the First Quarter data for 2021/22.

2.4 The pattern of a reduction in referral notification rates shown above is also result of the introduction of an Advice & Guidance Form from January 2020 onwards. This form has been used to record advice and guidance given when organisations are not sure if threshold has been met, or where subject details are not known, for general organisational safeguarding enquiries, and for advice on how to manage practice issues. The total number of advice forms received in this reporting period was 179. When added to the number of notification referrals, the team dealt with a total of 662 contacts, compared to 728 enquiries in 2019/20. This is a decrease of 66 accounting for a 9.06 % reduction in overall referral activity. This identifies that there was not as sharp a decrease in activity; identifying that organisations were seeking more advice and guidance in relation to wider organisational safeguarding issues. The addition of the fourth Criteria accounts for 49.7 % of the Advice & Guidance Forms received, during this reporting period. It is probable given current trends from March 2021 onwards that post COVID service delivery and the easing of restriction will result in a significant increase in demand, beyond annual norms. The data suggests the addition of the Fourth Criteria, has increased the LADO workload by 12%, within a normative year.

a graph showing the total number of advice forms in 2020-21

2.5 The significant increase in Advice and Guidance forms in March 2021, reflects in part, the Everyone’s Invited Safeguarding phenomenon which saw an increase in organisational safeguarding enquiries.

a graph showing the number of outcomes by type of allegation in 2019-20 compared to 2020-21

2.6 The majority of Formal Notification Referrals (483) resulted in Advice and Guidance outcome (423 or 89.47%). Although these do not meet threshold for LADO oversight, the amount of work generated can vary from one phone call, to hours of research and liaison with other agencies to understand any potential risk. Every referral received requires a response which is made within one working day of the referral being received by the duty LADO.

2.7 34 (7%) of referrals met threshold for Initial Managing Allegations Strategy Meetings. This is similar to the conversion rate of in 2019/20 which was at 7.5% of referrals. This suggests that there is consistency in threshold decision making and practice delivery in what needs to move into a Managing Allegations. This low conversion rate reflects Devon’s practice model to be proportionate in only convening meeting if it is beneficial or imperative to do so. This also may be reflective of the increase in referrals requiring Advice and Guidance only and is also likely to be a result of more confident work being done at advice and guidance stage that prevents the need for escalation into formal meetings.

2.8 This year has been the first in the past 4 reporting periods where there has been a decrease in referrals. Of note is that April 2020 saw a 54.67% decrease in referrals compared to April 2019. This is due to Coronavirus and lockdown closure of schools leading to a decline in referrals. Despite the slight decrease in referrals, the overall trend year on year is a steady increase in referral rates and associated service and workload pressures, though the timeliness of response and meeting times remains strong.

Profile of work: nature of allegations

a graph showing the number of allegations by type in 2019-20 compared to 2020-21

2.9 The nature or type of concerns considered by the LADO continues to vary widely. The trend over the last four reporting periods has seen a reduction in referrals relating to physical allegations and has continued to be the case this year. This may be as a result of Coronavirus as there were fewer referral. This year also saw a significant (80.5%) fall in the number of referrals being made where there was no allegation compared to last year. These referrals often relate to the organisation as a whole or are generalisations about staff and culture, rather than individuals. The introduction of the advice form may also account for the decrease as professionals are asked to consider the LADO threshold before making a referral.

2.10 This year, referrals relating to behaviour, practice conduct and substance misuse issues were notably higher. Previous years have seen this as the second biggest generator of referrals. This may be linked to expectations by regulatory bodies that issues that may suggest safeguarding concerns, though clearly do not meet threshold, should be referred to the LADO for their scrutiny and possible oversight and organisations often report receiving a strong message from such bodies. The increase in reporting around substance misuse reflects the introduction of the Suitability Criteria, in terms of how private behaviour maybe transferable to the workplace. It may also suggest that the workforce is potentially more pressured and utilising unhelpful strategies to manage. It is hoped that continued multi-agency training and awareness may result in a clearer understanding of what constitutes an allegation, and therefore greater consistency in referral type.

Referral source and subject

a graph showing the percentage of all allegations by referral source in 2019-20 compared to 2020-21

2.11 The source and subject of referrals continues to be heavily weighted towards education, residential care and the police. Given the proximity and frequency of contact between education professionals and children, the strong representation of education in referral sources and subjects is not unexpected. Increasing numbers of referrals relating to education professionals, however, is significant and an area that is given consideration with our education partners through the dedicated Safeguarding in Education monthly meetings.

2.12 Allegations from residential settings continue to be higher, again due to the complexity of the children placed in these provisions, and the amount of direct and one to one contact time professionals spend with them. This increase, compared to last year, also reflects that young people have spent significant time out of school and therefore have greater periods of time in their care placements, leading to more contact time and challenging behaviours.

Managing Allegations Meetings

2.13 Managing Allegations Meeting refers to the multi-agency meeting process in respect of the individual who is subject of the allegation or concern. The person who is the subject of the allegation or concern is referred to as the ‘ adult of concern ‘.

The following table displays the outcomes of MAS meetings:

Outcome 2019-20 2020-21
Substantiated 4 6
Malicious 0 0
Unfounded 10 1
Unsubstantiated 14 3
False 0 0
Recon 18 24

a pie chart showing the outcome of allegations in 2020-21

2.14 Managing Allegation Meetings are sometimes able to conclude the outcome of a concern at an initial meeting. Sometimes, however, additional information is needed through the completion of actions agreed at the initial meeting and attendees need to re-convene once, or more often in complex cases. This is the second year we have reported on the number of cases requiring reconvened meetings. As can be seen, 70% of cases needed more than one meeting. This is largely due to ongoing police investigations where all parties need to be interviewed, or where forensic examination of devices is required. This is a significant increase, compared to last year, which was previously 38% in 2019/20. It appears that COVID has impacted on capacity and timeliness for agencies to conduct internal investigations or for the police to conclude investigations. This has adversely impacted on timeliness of outcome for those adults subject to the Managing Allegations Process. In these cases, in particular, it is difficult for the LADO to ensure that matters are concluded in a timely fashion, although we do liaise with police colleagues for monthly updates if necessary.

2.15 Of note this year is the change in outcomes for Substantiated and Unsubstantiated cases. There is a notable increase in Substantiated outcomes (18% compared to 9%) compared to last year, and fewer meetings result in an Unsubstantiated outcome (9% compared to 30% previously in 2019/20), suggesting the threshold decision to proceed to a formal meeting is proportionate and robust.

2.16 At the final meeting, members of the strategy meeting will decide whether the allegation is:

  1. Substantiated – where there is sufficient identifiable evidence to prove the allegation
  2. False – where there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation
  3. Malicious – where there is clear evidence to prove there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false
  4. Unfounded – where there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made. It might also indicate that the person making the allegation misinterpreted the incident or was mistaken about what they saw. Alternatively, they may not have been aware of all the circumstances
  5. Unsubstantiated – this is not the same as a false allegation. It means that there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation; the term therefore does not imply guilt or innocence.

Where concerns are unfounded or unsubstantiated, it may still require further internal investigation by the employer or other action to be taken and does not necessarily mean there are no concerns at all.

3. Service performance

Timeliness of response

3.1 The performance of the LADO service in ensuring meetings take place in a timely way has improved slightly from last year with only 3% of meetings being held outside of timescales. Where meetings are delayed this is often as a result of other agencies not providing information in a timely manner, or requests for delay due to staff leave (for example during school holidays where staff are not available and there is no immediate risk to a child). In addition, 96 % of all LADO contacts or notifications are responded to by the LADO within 1 working day, reflecting a quick and timely response to notifications by the service. The 4% accounts for difficulties in contacting the referrer or prioritising competing duty demands at peak periods.

3.2 With all referrals, the primary concern for the LADO is the safeguarding of the child and other children. The initial response if a Managing Allegations Meeting is going to be held is to ensure that the subject of the allegation does not continue to have unsupervised contact with children. It is the employer’s responsibility for decision making around suspension, however the LADO task is to provide advice and guidance on this matter.

Timeliness of meetings

3.3 When Notifications are escalated to the Managing Allegations process these Managing Allegations Meetings 97% were held within the 5-day timescale. There has been an increase in Managing Allegations cases needing more than one meeting in order to make an Outcome decision.

a graph of showing the percentage of meetings that were held within timescale during 2017-21

4. Participation and partnership

4.1 The LADO continues to work in close partnership across a variety of agencies.

4.2 Comprehensive information and guidance on the DCFP website have been updated to support understanding of the LADO role. It includes advice for organisations; attending a LADO managing allegations strategy meeting; what happens when an allegation is made against you; and when there are concerns about your personal life. There is also a link to an online referral form.

4.3 A standardised letter is sent to the subject at the conclusion of the LADO enquiry. Where Managing Allegations Meetings are held, participants contribute to the outcome decision. It is not always appropriate for the referrer to be informed of an outcome – for example if this is a member of the public – however, they are made aware that the information they have provided has been dealt with appropriately.

4.4 Children and families are kept informed of the LADO process usually via the referrer, for example in schools. Consideration is given to what support the child and their family may need, who is best placed to provide this, who will keep them informed of progress, and what the outcome is, although in the case of disciplinaries or police investigations they will not be made aware of the detail of such investigations. If in the course of LADO enquiries concerns are raised regarding the parent/carers ability to protect the child, referrals to MASH and S47 Strategy Meetings are advised.

4.5 The LADOs continue to deal with sensitive information and seek guidance on the sharing of this as appropriate through the Information Governance team, HR colleagues and LADOs in other areas if appropriate.

4.6 Overall, partner agency attendance at Managing Allegation meetings remains good. There are some agencies where attendance could be improved, and we welcome the support of the partnership in continuing to deliver this message and expectation. The LADO will also be highlighting this area in its multi-agency training and awareness-raising workshops when these are able to be convened. The delay in these has been due in large part to workloads and LADO availability.

4.7 Quarterly Quality Assurance meetings are held with the Atkinson Secure Unit. The discussion focused on support activity and safeguarding practice within the Provision and agreement to review the Units Monthly Safeguarding Audit. The LADO intends to provide additional bespoke training regarding Organisational Safeguarding Practices which is scheduled for June 2021.

4.8 The LADO has continued to provide direct training workshops to the Fostering services, Skills to Foster Program and the ASYE induction Program. This contributes to a culture of effective organisational safeguarding by developing the skill set of the professional network.

4.9 The LADO works closely with Commissioning Services and Education colleagues to contribute to effective information sharing and good governance. has participated in the Peninsular Regional Commissioning Group Meetings to monitor Organisational safeguarding Practices within Independent Fostering Agencies’ and Independent Residential Providers, identified on Peninsular Placement Framework. The LADO attended the Monthly meeting with Local Authority Education Department and Babcock regarding thematic safeguarding discussions for mainstream Schools and Independent Education Providers.

4.10 The LADO has also responded to wider contextual safeguarding issues The LADO has provided information briefings to colleagues and facilitated Network Meetings and Partnership response to the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website across DCFP, to include University of Exeter and Exeter College. The ‘Everyone’s Invited’ Phenomenon continues to be monitored by LADO and its Education Colleagues to ensure effective organisational safeguarding responses where appropriate.

5. Complex cases and organised abuse

5.1 The LADO routinely deals with allegations that stray into the procedures set out for Complex and Organised Abuse, the MACE and whole service concerns. It commonly becomes involved with issues around organisational safeguarding practice, and the development of the Operations Manager role is providing a more comprehensive response to these cases.

5.2 The LADO has managed and co-ordinated 19 Complex Strategies (Complex or Organised Abuse) and 11 Peer Group Conferences including reviews (Contextual response under the Adolescent Safety Framework Implemented in December 2019) during this period. The LADO has drafted procedural and policy revisions to the Complex and Organised Abuse Policy and the Fabricated/ Induced Illness Policy.

5.3 At times, it responds to concerns of a sensitive nature that may attract public interest either by virtue of the media profile of an individual or as a result of information being shared that raises concerns about the wider safeguarding practices of an organisation. In these cases, the LADO provides alerts and updating information to Senior Managers who take responsibility for information management with the media and/or strategic responses.

5.4 Collaboration with colleagues in Adult Services to identify common themes and differences where whole service investigations involve adults and children has resulted in the production of a working protocol for whole service investigations. This ensures clear lines of accountability, processes and stages in the management of adult and children whole service enquiries.

6. Training and engagement

6.1 During this period, the LADO team has had limited capacity to continue to provide a responsive service to requests for awareness and training. Training, due to COVID has moved to the virtual online arena, therefore the service has designed an online tutorial video with the DCFP that launched in April 2021.

6.2 There remains online guidance to support a better understanding of the role and service for organisations, referrers and subjects. The e-learning module that accompanies this guidance has been updated and will need to be reviewed again when Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021 comes into effect in September.

7. Thematic profile of 2020-21

COVID-19 pandemic

7.1 A significant proportion of notifications largely focused on practice issues that have required LADO oversight of internal disciplinary investigations. The practice issues predominantly focus on appropriate responses to young people’s challenging behaviour and behaviour of staff that is not connected to a specific child, rather than direct allegations of harm. Thematically teachers, residential staff & support staff have identified stress and anxiety in relation to their mental health and wellbeing as a contributing factor to behaviours identified as potentially harmful. The impact of COVID restrictions and altered working environments appears to potentially be impacting on resilience, judgement, and well-being. There has been an increase in substance related issues being referred to the LADO, suggesting that this behaviour maybe increasing within the workforce as a response to some of the environmental changes and working patterns.

Suitability criteria

7.2 The LADO harm threshold test has had a fourth category added to bring WTG (2018) in line with KCSIE 2020: ‘behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children’. This suitability criteria is to take account of situations where a person’s behaviour outside a work context (i.e. school) may suggest ‘transferable risk’. It allows for a degree of interpretation that may not easily be defensible to qualify. The fourth additional criteria of suitability will apply in situation as follows (please be aware the examples below is not a definitive list):

  • Mental health
  • Domestic abuse
  • Offences against adults
  • Substance misuse

7.3 We appreciate that the fourth criteria may be confusing for some practitioners and to support practitioners and the LADO around the new Criteria, we have introduced additional guidance. This has increased the scope of behaviours that will fall under the Allegation Management process managed by LADO and as a consequence there has been an increase in workload within the service since November 2020. It has as result seen a significant increase in the number of referrals or advice and guidance requests related to suitability issues.

Cultural shift: Everyone’s Invited

7.5 In March 2021 LADO service, alongside allied professionals, became more readily aware of the Instagram account and website called Everyone’s Invited – that invites people to share their rape culture and sexual abuse experiences anonymously and does invite them to name their school or university. There are now over 18,000 testimonies available on the Everyone’s Invited website. We anticipate that this number will grow given the scale of the problem and the platform’s media attention.

7.6 Not all testimonials on the platform are about schools. That said, over 46 education providers have been identified in the Devon regional area to, some multiple times. There are a significant number of testimonials relating to post 16 and university settings, the night-time economy and public harassment. Where testimonials do mention schools, the allegations range from misogynistic behaviour /culture to verbal harassment, sexual assault, exploitation and rape. In some infrequent cases, adults in a position of trust have been mentioned as alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment. There are instances where reports made to individuals in positions of trust by pupils have allegedly been suppressed, dismissed, or ignored. Police have encouraged victims and survivors to come forward and a helpline has been established to process further reports.

7.7 Unfortunately, some details due to the anonymity of the person posting them on the website is hard for schools and safeguarding agencies to identify which students may have been affected. Most of the testimonies focus on peer on peer abuse, sexually harmful behaviour. It is important, that the messaging to young people from all professionals is that ‘we hear’, ‘we believe’ and ‘we want’ to support them to make them feel safer and assist their recovery. The NSPCC launched a free and anonymous helpline for children and young people who have experienced abuse at school or for adults, professionals who need support and guidance.

7.8 In order to develop effective Organisational Safeguarding responses the LADO, alongside partners has encouraged professionals, to consider:

  • Culture – Creating, Shaping and Maintaining a Safeguarding First Culture. Leading by example and reinforcing your commitment to a safeguarding first philosophy and practice. A zero-tolerance approach to misogynistic, sexist and other harmful and offensive behaviour.
  • Communication – Ensuring Communication and Reporting Pathways are Signposted and Accessible. LADO has provided guidance to support professionals to feel confident in signposting to other organisations, so young people and parents/carers know where to seek support outside of the school environment. This may include Childline, the NSPCC Helpline, Children’s Social Care or therapeutic services for victims and survivors.
  • Complaints – Engaging with Established Reporting Procedure. The LADO, with partners have ensured via communication channels that professionals and children and their families are aware of reporting frameworks and policies regarding allegations of sexually harmful behaviour between Young People and abuse from adults in a position of trust or authority.

7.9 The LADO has been mindful of specific collaboration with education colleagues and that careful consideration is needed to create a victim-centric approach that avoids blaming or shaming children or young people who make disclosures. Children and young people who have allegations made against them are also be supported appropriately via established safeguarding processes.

Non-regulated services

7.10 An issue of note is the complexity of dealing with non-regulated settings providing services directly to children or commissioned to do so. These are independent organisations – sole-traders, family run business and those self-employed, which are not accountable to a regulatory e.g. Ofsted, or professional body e.g. Teaching Regulation Agency (DfE). There are limitations in the LADO authority to address a safeguarding concern with the individual if they are the owner of the business and not accountable to any higher body. Therefore, co-operation from such organisations e.g. to investigate safeguarding concerns, cannot be guaranteed. We continue to engage such individual via the Words of Advice meetings process.

8. Impact and outcomes for young people

8.1 The LADO Service is committed to supporting the Devon Children and Families Partnership Children & Young People’s Plan by contributing specifically to priorities for young to “Feel Safe” and “Protect from Harm”.

8.2 These broad outcomes are achieved by:

  • Providing advice, information and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations around allegations and concerns regarding paid and unpaid workers to ensure organisations are safe for young people.
  • Managing and overseeing individual cases in a timely way to reduce risk and ensure that no further harm can occur This involves monitoring the progress of cases to ensure they are dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • Ensuring the child’s experience is central and that they are safeguarded.
  • Ensuring there is a consistent, fair and thorough process for all adults working with children and young people against whom an allegation is made.
  • Chairing the Managing Allegations Strategy meeting in cases where the allegation requires investigation by police and/or social care to ensure effective welfare responses to young people.

9. Quality assurance activity

9.1 Devon LADO have led on the development and implementation of the Regional LADO Peer Audit framework, which has been designed to contribute towards improved consistency of practice across the region. Devon LADO participate in the monthly Regional LADO Network Meetings to inform regional and national policy and practice developments.

9.2 Internal Quality assurance Audit activity is undertaken on a monthly basis with 3 cases audited and moderated each month. The Audit activity has identified that there is improving consistency in threshold judgement and risk assessment, that specific safeguarding consideration for young people is consistently being explicitly considered. It was identified that Managing Allegation meeting Plan’s do not focus explicitly on outcomes and need to be SMART in their design. As a consequence, we are currently revising our plans to reflect the need for Outcome Measures. It was identified that feedback should be consistently sought as part of the Quality Assurance process for each case. We are currently developing a feedback evaluation process to enable the LADO service to gather this information to inform practice.

9.3 It has been identified that the LADO requires the development of a Management Information Dashboard in which to co-ordinate Management Information; at this stage data collect relies on manual counting.

9.4 Key areas of learning that have informed the future service development plan for the LADO have included; how we share information, when and how; how we ensure subjects, children and families are properly supported through the LADO process; how we respond to whole-service safeguarding concerns and how we respond to identified potential gaps in national regulation relating to safeguarding including for supported accommodation for vulnerable young people, language schools etc.

9.5 As a result of the above, the LADO service continues to implement the use of Words of Advice meetings in an attempt to fill some of the gaps where, for example; the subject of an allegation may not be an employee of an organisation; where they are not operating within a regulated activity; where there is no requirement for them to hold a current DBS check.

10. Service development and improvement

Challenges

10.1 There are a number of continuing challenges for the service:

  • Capacity difficulties. The increase in notifications continues and is a challenge to respond to with current staffing work patterns and arrangements. Additional work demands placed on the Lead LADO (Operations manager) has limited the capacity for developing Organisational safeguarding responses beyond the managing allegations process. Had it not been for the closure of schools due to the pandemic, LADO contacts (including both Notifications and advice and Guidance) would have surpassed last year’s number received.
  • The continuing high number of notifications not meeting the threshold indicates a need for dedicated training in managing allegations. This is not currently provided beyond online activity.
  • Quality and co-ordination of management information; the service relies on manual counting to collect performance data. The service requires reliable management reports from Eclipse and a Dashboard.
  • Number of notifications not reported to the LADO within one working day.

Improvement activity

10.2 The LADO Service ‘Improvement and Development Plan’ has identified a number of priorities that are currently being focused on via monthly development workshops. All areas are in active progress

10.3 The LADO Priorities for 2021-22 are:

  • Consistency in practice delivery – Integration of the Practice Standards for ‘Greater Devon Region’, Threshold Tools that reflect the Suitability Criteria, Recording & reporting mechanisms on Eclipse to reflect organisation thematic and trends.
  • Robust quality assurance that improves outcomes for children – Audit activity, updating guidance & website, Regional consistency via the Peer Audit mechanism.
  • High-quality participation from key stakeholders – Revision of Training offer, Support to providers & commissioners (including Secure Accommodation), Collaboration with colleagues in Adult Services regarding Whole Service reviews. Clear working practices with Commissioning Services and the management of Internal investigations.
  • Effective leadership and management – Development of Organisational Safeguarding role across the partnership, Participation in regional / national forums
  • Developing the role of the LADO in relational to organisational safeguarding governance – Organisational Standards, Lessons learnt and Whole Service Review Mechanism
  • Contributing to the development and integration of contextual responses to exploitation via the DCFP Adolescent Safety Framework – Effective Complex Strategy Mechanism and operational use of Peer Group Contextual Conferencing

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