Council launches child protection network with record number of partners

Southwark Council has officially launched a bespoke information sharing system designed to better protect vulnerable children in the borough.

Sixteen different partners, more than double the next largest network in one place known, have already signed up to be part of the high-tech Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) led by Southwark’s children’s social care services, with at least four more poised to join.

Organisations that are on board, which range from the police, probation, community health and community mental health services to housing and the council’s early help services work together to share essential, up-to-date information on any young people and their families to spot children who might be in need.

Representatives from all organisations sit together in a secure room to ensure maximum communication and team work, and the MASH can deal with up to 30 referrals a week. Under the new system, the council can gather in just a few hours the kind of comprehensive family background that may have previously taken weeks.

Councillor Dora Dixon Fyle, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Too many times we have seen stories in the national press coverage reminding us of the tragic loss of young lives that can come from missed opportunities to share vital information.

“With this in mind, no effort has been spared to create the best possible system for us to share necessary and relevant information with a wide variety of partners in order to protect some of the most vulnerable children in our society.

“Some of these children and young people are living in very difficult circumstances that the council and its partners can help with, and by sharing information like this in a safe and confidential manner we can build up a better picture of a family’s circumstances and intervene early before a situation becomes a crisis.”