VULNERABLE children, young people and adults in Hampshire are set to receive faster, more co-ordinated and consistent responses to safeguarding concerns raised by professionals and the public through a new Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
The MASH came into operation at the start of the month and is part of the county council’s additional investment of £2.5million to further enhance its frontline social care services.
It brings together professionals from a range of agencies, including Hampshire Constabulary and the NHS, with close links to probation and housing organisations in Hampshire, and Hampshire Fire and Rescue, amongst others, into an integrated multi-agency team who will assess and make decisions on safeguarding concerns depending on statutory need, child protection or early help.
The dedicated multi-agency team will protect the most vulnerable children and adults from harm, neglect and abuse by meeting goals specifically related to safeguarding, including:
- a faster, more co-ordinated and consistent response to safeguarding concerns raised about vulnerable children and adults
- an improved ‘journey’ for the child or adult with a greater emphasis on early intervention and better informed services provided at the right time
- a more straightforward and responsive process for the professional or member of the public raising a concern, with clear guidance and support
- closer partnership working, clear accountability and improved multi-agency communications
- a reduction in the number of inappropriate referrals and re-referrals.
The MASH will also be in operation for the Isle of Wight Council as part of Hampshire County Council’s strategic partnership to deliver children’s services on the Island.
Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s executive lead member for children’s services, said: “The creation of the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub is part of the county council’s additional investment of £2.5m to further enhance our already robust ‘front door’ for children’s social care, increasing our capacity and capability to respond quickly and consistently to safeguarding concerns.
“Working closely with partners in police and health, amongst others, will mean that we can work together effectively and easily share multi-agency information.
“I would like to thank all of those that have been involved in developing the MASH which will improve our ability to provide quality social care services, with greater emphasis on early help, better informed services and intervention at the right time.”
Assistant Chief Constable Laura Nicholson said: “Every officer and member of staff within Hampshire Constabulary is dedicated day in, day out to reducing harm to our communities, and there is already some excellent work ongoing which demonstrates the force’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable from serious crime.
“It is clear, however, that all agencies with a responsibility for safeguarding the vulnerable must work more closely and more effectively in sharing information and identifying and responding to risk as soon as possible.”
In addition, and as part of the council’s investment into social care services, a further 35 new frontline child protection social workers and support staff will be recruited.