Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments


Apologies were submitted by Councillor Nick Carter (Councillor Jeannette Matelot substituting) and Councillor Charles Mathew.



Declarations of Interest - Guidance note on back page of the agenda


There were no declarations of interest.



Working towards a new corporate plan 2018-21



Report by the Deputy Leader of the Council.

Members are asked to consider the approach and direction being taken in developing the council's new Corporate Plan (2018-21). The current Corporate Plan covers the period 2016-20. Given the county council elections in May 2017 work has begun on developing a new Corporate Plan which reflects the council's strategy and priorities, articulates the council's renewed direction since May, and sets out a positive, ambitious and aspirational view of the future.


The Committee is RECOMMENDED to:


a)   comment on the attached draft prospectus;


b)   consider the next steps and process for signing off the draft prospectus;


c)   note the approach being taken to develop the full new Corporate Plan, and to suggest any additional matters for consideration by the Working Group.


Additional documents:


Ms Scott introduced the report on behalf of the chair of the working group, Councillor Heathcoat.  Ms Scott proposed a public-facing document setting out the council’s vision for the county, that could be made available quickly, for example online and in libraries. A full, more internal and detailed corporate plan would be produced in the longer term for approval by Council.


Councillor Hudspeth stated that a new corporate plan was needed because the Council was entering a new, more ambitious and aspirational phase, having largely made the necessary budget savings.  There was greater agreement around the county now on priorities for government funding bids.  When such bids were successful it freed up council money to be spent elsewhere.


Members were invited to comment and made the following suggestions:


·         The document needs to address infrastructure for growth towns around the county.

·         It is not obvious how feedback from the public has influenced the document.

·         There should be more on joint working between the local authorities and other partners across the county.

·         There were too many case studies.  A smaller number is needed that can stand up to rigorous scrutiny.

·         There needs to be more to give hope to those currently struggling to get by.

·         The document should also address how the priorities will be achieved and how success will be measured.


It was agreed to circulate a new, shorter draft on the basis of the feedback received and to invite Members to comment on that draft by email.  The Chairman will attend Cabinet and deliver feedback from the Committee.



Safeguarding Adults pdf icon PDF 125 KB



Report by Independent Chair, OSAB


The Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board is required to report annually on the work of the Board and of its partners, assessing the position of the partnerships in relation to the safeguarding adults at risk within Oxfordshire. Pamela Marsden, Independent Chair, OSAB will attend.


The Committee is RECOMMENDED to:


a)           note that the adult safeguarding partnership is working across Oxfordshire but there are severe pressure points in relation to the increased complexity of cases and activity in the system;


b)           consider the implications for the partnership in relation to increasingly fewer resources being made available due to budgetary considerations; and


c)           note the Business Plan for 2017-18 contained at the end of the document.


Additional documents:


Ms Marsden presented the report.  She drew attention to good performance ratings such as 86% of care homes rated as good or outstanding.  The Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service had conducted 3,000 welfare checks.  The Adult Board is now working closely with the Children’s Board and they meet twice yearly to discuss joint priorities.  Housing has been identified as a joint issue.


Ms Marsden and Mr Turner responded to Members’ questions as follows:


·         Recruitment and retention continue to be a major problem for everyone in the sector despite having the highest pay rate in the country.  There is a need to offer prospective employees good job progression prospects.

·         South & Vale failed to produce a report in time due to staff changes but have delivered a supplementary report.

·         Healthwatch has a representative on the Board and they have been commissioned to do some work on user feedback.

·         Duplicate reports may be responsible for some of the low conversion rate of reports.  Also, care providers have been encouraged to make reports to cover themselves.  A comprehensive training plan is in place to seek to reduce the number of concerns that convert into enquiries. A consultancy service has been set up to advise whether a safeguarding concern should be made. It is hoped that the impact of this will be seen next year.

·         More training with councillors will also be provided as they often pick up reports of abuse.



Safeguarding Children - Annual Reports pdf icon PDF 296 KB


(Items 7 and 8 will be taken together at the meeting.)


Report by Deputy Director Safeguarding.


This paper concerns three annual reports from the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board. The reports include an overview of safeguarding work, serious case reviews and quality assurance.


The Committee is requested to note the annual reports and provide any comments.

Additional documents:


Mr Burnett introduced the report.  He expressed satisfaction that the right people were on the Board and there is strong engagement with its work.  He stated that his biggest concern was the reduction in referrals for early help and at the same time an increase in children taken into care.  He has also expressed concern at the poor OFSTED ratings for secure centres.


Mr Burnett, Ms Lea and Ms Farncombe responded to Members’ questions as follows:

·         There is no resource issue with early help.  There is a need to engage partners to refer into early help. There are some signs that this is happening with the new Locality and Community Support Service.

·         There should be greater powers for local authorities to ensure that parents are accountable for children’s safety when being educated at home.

·         School governing bodies need to be more aware of potential impacts of children being on reduced timetables.

·         It is hoped that a new model for CAMHS will help reduce waiting times for assessments.  The Board will assess how the new CAMHS pathway links to the main pathway for children.  This should reduce confusion for staff and others.

·         Where grandparents are formally taking care of grandchildren there are safeguards in place but there are concerns about situations where this is happening informally.

·         Locality networks are being built around schools in areas of concern.  They ensure that key services work together.  It is hoped that each school will have a named Police Community Support Officer.

·         While local councillors have been consulted on individual problems there is a need for more communication to them about the situation in general.

·         The Board is working with VOXY to get better feedback from children on their experience of safeguarding.


Ms Lea presented the PAQA report.  She drew attention in particular to the ten most common learning points in the summary.  Ms Farncombe presented the CRAG report.  There were 5 Serious Case Reviews involving 6 children.  The Chairman suggested that serious case reviews could be the subject of a ‘deep dive’ by the Committee or a subgroup could look at them.


The committee agreed that it should consider serious case review reports when they are published.



Children Missing From Home or Care In Oxfordshire pdf icon PDF 410 KB

(To be taken with Item 7.)


Report by Director for Children’s Services.


This report provides a strategic update on the number of children reported as missing from home, care and school in Oxfordshire, including children looked after by Oxfordshire County Council. It covers the period between 1 January 2017 and 1 June 2017.


The report focuses on the main patterns, trends and concerns across the county, which will be of note to strategic leads. It covers best practice in line with the agreed ‘joint protocol' and current risks or shortfalls and how these are being managed to ensure compliance with the relevant guidance issued by the Department for Education (DfE) and the College of Policing. 


It is not intended to reflect the full picture of all of the work undertaken by the Missing Children’s Panel and partners within the period. Many investigations and analyses are active, awaiting further intelligence development or exploration with operational partners, third party agencies, and the children and families whom we are working to safeguard.


Safeguarding missing children is a key priority for the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB). The OSCB Child Sexual Exploitation Sub-Group is responsible for overseeing the partnership arrangements for missing children across the county.


A wide variety of information and intelligence has informed this report. Sources include information held on both Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police databases (including crime, intelligence and missing persons), Local Authority databases and multi-agency records.


There remains evidence of risks related to missing children across all of Oxfordshire with varying patterns and trends in each locality.


The Committee is RECOMMENDED to note this report.


Ms Farncombe presented the report.  She explained that when children go missing twice or more within 90 days the case is reviewed to ensure that agencies are working together.  There had been a reduction in repeat episodes which indicates that the right structures are in place though there is still a lot of work to do. 


Ms Farncombe responded to Members’ points as follows:


·         There is concern that when unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs) go missing for a long period, they may have become involved in trafficking.  However, some may have always planned to move on.

·         When Looked After Children placed out-of-county go missing there is a clear protocol to notify Oxfordshire as well as the police but they often fail to notify us at the outset.  If the children return, there is a review to check if the placement is still appropriate.

·         The Council works with colleges especially in respect of 16 to 18 year olds.

·         A new structure has been created to tackle the growing problem of children at risk of exploitation by organised crime groups.

·         Ms Farncombe will update the Committee on the recommendation that Thames Valley Police appoint a senior officer to oversee UASC partnership working.  The committee supported this.