NHS and police link to save at-risk kids

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DONCASTER’S under-fire children’s services department has announced plans to link up with police and health officials to try to turn its performance around.

The service was taken into Government control after concerns were raised over the deaths of seven children who had been known to social services.

It was put under further scrutiny after two brothers, aged 10 and 11, in the council’s care, were convicted of torturing two younger boys in Edlington.

An official inspection of the service finally ruled it was now satisfactory last month, but director of children’s service Chris Pratt said there were still improvements to be made.

Now the council has announced it is setting up a children’s multi-agency referral and assessment service.

It will put together front line child protection officials from Doncaster Council, South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Health Services together under the same roof for the first time.

Officials say it will maximise protection for children and young people against abuse and harm in Doncaster. It is a key element of the borough’s Children and Young People’s Improvement Plan.

Doncaster Council’s head of children’s assessment Tracey Newcomb will be in charge of the new set-up.

She said: “We are at the beginning of a major and unique process focused on developing and refining a new and exciting safeguarding service that brings together all key agencies in Doncaster.

“There is a lot of work to be done to ensure this service is the best it can be and we are taking a stepped approach with regard to its development.

“The first phase has seen staff from the South Yorkshire Police Public Protection Unit moving in with us and we have already begun to see the real benefit of this.”

Coun Eric Tatton-Kelly, Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s service, said: “Doncaster’s historical child protection problems are well documented, but we have to move on.

“What is happening now is an exciting time and we must view the development of this service as an opportunity to make real change.”

Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Shaw, from Doncaster’s Public Protection Unit, said: “By setting up the children’s multi-agency referral and assessment service in Doncaster, we will be able to provide a much stronger and more unified approach to protecting children and young people from any harm or abuse.”