Chapter 3: Local Safeguarding Children Boards

Contents

Statutory objectives and functions of LSCBs
LSCB membership
LSCB Chair, accountability and resourcing
Information sharing

Section 13 of the Children Act 2004 requires each local authority to establish a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) for their area and specifies the organisations and individuals (other than the local authority) that should be represented on LSCBs.

Statutory objectives and functions of LSCBs

1.

An LSCB must be established for every local authority area. The LSCB has a range of roles and statutory functions including developing local safeguarding policy and procedures and scrutinising local arrangements. The statutory objectives and functions of the LSCB are described in the box below.


Statutory objectives and functions of LSCBs

Section 14 of the Children Act 2004 sets out the objectives of LSCBs, which are:

  1. to coordinate what is done by each person or body represented on the Board for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area; and
  2. to ensure the effectiveness of what is done by each such person or body for those purposes.

Regulation 5 of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards Regulations 2006 sets out that the functions of the LSCB, in relation to the above objectives under section 14 of the Children Act 2004, are as follows:

1(a) developing policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area of the authority, including policies and procedures in relation to:
  (i) the action to be taken where there are concerns about a child's safety or welfare, including thresholds for intervention;
  (ii) training of persons who work with children or in services affecting the safety and welfare of children;
  (iii) recruitment and supervision of persons who work with children;
  (iv) investigation of allegations concerning persons who work with children;
  (v) safety and welfare of children who are privately fostered;
  (vi) cooperation with neighbouring children's services authorities and their Board partners;
(b) communicating to persons and bodies in the area of the authority the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, raising their awareness of how this can best be done and encouraging them to do so;
(c) monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of what is done by the authority and their Board partners individually and collectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and advising them on ways to improve;
(d) participating in the planning of services for children in the area of the authority; and
(e) undertaking reviews of serious cases and advising the authority and their Board partners on lessons to be learned.

Regulation 5 (2) which relates to the LSCB Serious Case Reviews function and regulation 6 which relates to the LSCB Child Death functions are covered in chapter 4 of this guidance.

Regulation 5 (3) provides that an LSCB may also engage in any other activity that facilitates, or is conducive to, the achievement of its objectives.


2.

In order to fulfil its statutory functions under Regulation 5 an LSCB should use data and, as a minimum, should:

  • assess the effectiveness of the help being provided to children and families, including early help;
  • assess whether LSCB partners are fulfilling their statutory obligations set out in chapter 2 of this guidance;
  • quality assure practice, including through joint audits of case files involving practitioners and identifying lessons to be learned; and
  • monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of training, including multi-agency training, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.[44],[45].

Local authorities and Board partners should provide the LSCB with data to enable it to fulfil its statutory functions effectively.

[44] The Children’s Safeguarding Performance Information Framework provides a mechanism to help do this by setting out some of the questions a LSCB should consider.
[45] Research has shown that multi-agency training in particular is useful and valued by professionals in developing a shared understanding of child protection and decision making. Carpenter et al (2009). The Organisation, Outcomes and Costs of Inter-agency Training to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families.

3.

LSCBs do not commission or deliver direct frontline services though they may provide training. While LSCBs do not have the power to direct other organisations they do have a role in making clear where improvement is needed. Each Board partner retains its own existing line of accountability for safeguarding.

LSCB membership

4.

LSCB membership is set out in the box below.

Statutory Board partners and relevant persons and bodies

Section 13 of the Children Act 2004, as amended, sets out that an LSCB must include at least one representative of the local authority and each of the other Board partners set out below (although two or more Board partners may be represented by the same person). Board partners who must be included in the LSCB are:

  • district councils in local government areas which have them;
  • the chief officer of police;
  • the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies;
  • the Youth Offending Team;
  • NHS England and clinical commissioning groups;
  • NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts all or most of whose hospitals, establishments and facilities are situated in the local authority area;
  • Cafcass;
  • the governor or director of any secure training centre in the area of the authority; and
  • the governor or director of any prison in the area of the authority which ordinarily detains children.

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 amended sections 13 and 14 of the Children Act 2004 and provided that the local authority must take reasonable steps to ensure that the LSCB includes two lay members representing the local community.

Section 13(4) of the Children Act 2004, as amended, provides that the local authority must take reasonable steps to ensure the LSCB includes representatives of relevant persons and bodies of such descriptions as may be prescribed. Regulation 3A of the LSCB Regulations prescribes the following persons and bodies:

  • the governing body of a maintained school;
  • the proprietor of a non-maintained special school;
  • the proprietor of a city technology college, a city college for the technology of the arts or an academy; and
  • the governing body of a further education institution the main site of which is situated in the authority's area.

5.

All schools (including independent schools, academies and free schools) have duties in relation to safeguarding children and promoting their welfare. Local authorities should take reasonable steps to ensure that the LSCB includes representatives from all types of school in their area. A system of representation should be identified to enable all schools to receive information and feed back comments to their representatives on the LSCB.

6.

The LSCB should work with the Local Family Justice Board. They should also work with the health and well-being board, informing and drawing on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

7.

In exceptional circumstances an LSCB can cover more than one local authority. Where boundaries between LSCBs and their partner organisations are not coterminous, such as with health organisations and police authorities, LSCBs should collaborate as necessary on establishing common policies and procedures and joint ways of working.

8.

Members of an LSCB should be people with a strategic role in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children within their organisation. They should be able to:

  • speak for their organisation with authority;
  • commit their organisation on policy and practice matters; and
  • hold their own organisation to account and hold others to account.
9.

The LSCB should either include on its Board, or be able to draw on appropriate expertise and advice from, frontline professionals from all the relevant sectors. This includes a designated doctor and nurse, the Director of Public Health, Principal Child and Family Social Worker and the voluntary and community sector, and any to whom the  local authority has delegated children’s social care functions. Where applicable, LSCBs should also be able to draw on advice from those appointed to support local authorities to move out of intervention.

10.

Lay members will operate as full members of the LSCB, participating as appropriate on the Board itself and on relevant committees. Lay members should help to make links between the LSCB and community groups, support stronger public engagement in local child safety issues and an improved public understanding of the LSCB's child protection work. A local authority may pay lay members.

11.

The Lead Member for Children’s Services should be a participating observer of the LSCB. In practice this means routinely attending meetings as an observer and receiving all its written reports.

LSCB Chair, accountability and resourcing

12.

In order to provide effective scrutiny, the LSCB should be independent. It should not be subordinate to, nor subsumed within, other local structures.

13.

Every LSCB should have an independent chair who can hold all agencies to account.

14.

It is the responsibility of the Chief Executive (Head of Paid Service) to appoint or remove the LSCB chair with the agreement of a panel including LSCB partners and lay members. The Chief Executive, drawing on other LSCB partners and, where appropriate, the Lead Member will hold the Chair to account for the effective working of the LSCB.

15.

The LSCB Chair should work closely with all LSCB partners and particularly with the Director of Children’s Services. The Director of Children’s Services has the responsibility within the local authority, under section 18 of the Children Act 2004, for improving outcomes for children, local authority children’s social care functions and local cooperation arrangements for children’s services.[46]

[46] Department for Education statutory guidance on The roles and responsibilities of the Director of  Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children’s Services (2013) expands on this role.

16.

The Chair must publish an annual report on the effectiveness of child safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the local area.[47] The annual report should be published in relation to the preceding financial year and should fit with local agencies’ planning, commissioning and budget cycles. The report should be submitted to the Chief Executive, Leader of the Council, the local police and crime commissioner and the Chair of the health and well-being board.

[47] This is a statutory requirement under section 14A of the Children Act 2004.

17.

The report should provide a rigorous and transparent assessment of the performance and effectiveness of local services. It should identify areas of weakness, the causes of those weaknesses and the action being taken to address them as well as other proposals for action. The report should include lessons from reviews undertaken within the reporting period (see chapter 4 and chapter 5).

18.

LSCBs should conduct regular assessments on the effectiveness of Board partners’ responses to child sexual exploitation and include in the report information on the outcome of these assessments. This should include an analysis of how the LSCB partners have used their data to promote service improvement for vulnerable children and families, including in respect of sexual abuse. The report should also include appropriate data on children missing from care, and how the LSCB is addressing the issue. Where the LSCB has a secure establishment within its area, the report should include a review of the use of restraint within that establishment and the findings of the review should be reported to the Youth Justice Board.

19.

The report should also list the contributions made to the LSCB by partner agencies and details of what the LSCB has spent, including on Child Death Reviews, Serious Case Reviews and other specific expenditure such as learning events or training. All LSCB member organisations have an obligation to provide LSCBs with reliable resources (including finance) that enable the LSCB to be strong and effective. Members should share the financial responsibility for the LSCB in such a way that a disproportionate burden does not fall on a small number of partner agencies.

20.

All LSCB Chairs should have access to training and development opportunities, including peer networking. They should also have an LSCB business manager and other discrete support as is necessary for them, and the LSCB, to perform effectively.

Information sharing

21.

Chapter 1 sets out how effective sharing of information between professionals and local agencies is essential for effective service provision. Every LSCB should play a strong role in supporting information sharing between and within organisations and addressing any barriers to information sharing. This should include ensuring that a culture of information sharing is developed and supported as necessary by multi-agency training.

22.

In addition, the LSCB can require a person or body to comply with a request for information.[48] This can only take place where the information is essential to carrying out LSCB statutory functions. Any request for information about individuals must be 'necessary' and 'proportionate' to the reasons for the request. LSCBs should be mindful of the burden of requests and should explain why the information is needed.

[48] Section 14B of the Children Act 2004.