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Joint Inspectorate Review of Child Protection Arrangements (JICPA): Neath Port Talbot, 2021

Our findings of the effectiveness of partnership working and the work of individual agencies in Neath Port Talbot (NPT).

Together with (HMICFRS) Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (External link), (HIW) Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (External link), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (External link) and Estyn (External link), we carried out a joint inspection on the multi-agency response to abuse and neglect in Neath Port Talbot. This was the second pilot inspection in Wales involving five inspectorates reviewing child protection arrangements.

This inspection included an evaluation of how local services responded to child exploitation.

Key strengths

Safeguarding processes were understood across the partnership. We found suitable structures and relationships in place to facilitate effective partnership working where a child was at risk of exploitation.
Practitioners across the partnership made significant efforts to engage with children. For example, our review identified how police officers engaged with children and their families and sought their views, their representations, and concerns on visits and prevention interviews.

We found partners identified risks to children and reported safeguarding issues promptly. As an example, the police have a system to monitor referrals over the weekend allowing response to urgent issues.

The local authority works within a person-centred ethos that promotes children and young people being looked after within their own family wherever this is in the best interests of their well-being and safety. Where children are unable to live at home, sustaining contact with parents and siblings and wider family members is prioritised.

Areas for development

Contextual safeguarding is a key concept at the core of NPT’s partnership approach to safeguarding. The probation staff we met, however, were unaware of the term. We found the contextual safeguarding agenda also needs to be strengthened further across all schools.

We did not see consistent evidence of the shared implementation and review of safety plans. In some cases, there was lack of clarity about which agencies were responsible for addressing which aspects of safety and well-being concerns.

We found good examples of prompt referrals to CAMHS services. However, we were told by numerous GPs and others in the health partnership, that there were often long delays in obtaining a CAMHS assessment for children. This means there could be delays in children receiving timely interventions to address their mental health needs.

Whilst the partnership is committed to early intervention, there are some waiting lists and demand outstrips supply. This means opportunities to address and mitigate risk at the earliest stage may be missed. 

Next steps

We expect the local authority to prepare a written statement of proposed action to address the findings identified in this inspection. This should be a multi-agency response involving the Probation Service, Youth Justice Service, Swansea Bay University Health Board and South Wales Police.

To view all our findings and recommendations, read the full letter below.