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Safeguarding Responsibilities of Housing Services

Wirral Safeguarding Children Partnership

The WSCP is the statutory body responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of multi-agency arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The three statutory safeguarding partners in Wirral are: Wirral Local Authority, Merseyside Police and Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group.

The three safeguarding partners are committed to providing a safeguarding system in Wirral where:

  • excellent practice is the norm, and can be seen in common across services
  • partner agencies hold one another to account effectively, and improvement
    results there is early identification of, and co-owned action on ‘new’ safeguarding issues
  • learning is promoted and embedded, and its effects can be proven 
    information is shared effectively and translates into knowledge that informs practice
  • the public are engaged in safeguarding all children and feel confident that children are protected from harm

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018

This statutory guidance sets out the responsibilities of individual organisations responsibilities under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004. These duties, as applied to individual organisations and agencies, and are set out in chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018. The responsibilities include:

  • Clear safeguarding policy
  • Culture of listening to children
  • Safe and skilled workforce – including safer recruitment
  • A named safeguarding lead (and deputy)
  • Access to safeguarding training

Housing Services

  • Housing and homelessness services in local authorities and others such as environmental health organisations are subject to section 11 duties. Practitioners working in these services may become aware of conditions that could have or are having an adverse impact on children. Under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004, authorities must take account of the impact of health and safety hazards in housing on vulnerable occupants, including children, when deciding on the action to be taken by landlords to improve conditions. Housing authorities also have an important role to play in safeguarding vulnerable young people, including young people who are pregnant, leaving care or a secure establishment.

Download the flyer to display within your Agency or Organisation

Section 11 / 175 Audit

The WSCP is the key statutory body for coordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in Wirral. It is the duty of the WSCP to hold agencies to account in terms of their safeguarding arrangements and practices.

The WSCP uses a variety of ways to test the strength of safeguarding arrangements across agencies in Wirral but one of the key ways is by the use of an annual safeguarding audit called the Section 11 Audit (for agencies). Section 11 was issued under the Children Act (2004) and has been reinforced in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018. Section 11 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, including:

  • a clear line of accountability for the commissioning and/or provision of services designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
  • a senior board level lead with the required knowledge, skills and expertise or sufficiently qualified and experienced to take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s/agency’s safeguarding arrangements
  • a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services
  • clear whistleblowing procedures, which reflect the principles in Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom to Speak Up Review and are suitably referenced in staff training and codes of conduct, and a culture that enables issues about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to be addressed
  • clear escalation policies for staff to follow when their child safeguarding concerns are not being addressed within their organisation or by other agencies
  • arrangements which set out clearly the processes for sharing information, with other practitioners and with safeguarding partners
  • a designated practitioner (or, for health commissioning and health provider organisations/agencies, designated and named practitioners) for child safeguarding. Their role is to support other practitioners in their organisations and agencies to recognise the needs of children, including protection from possible abuse or neglect. Designated practitioner roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions.
  • Practitioners should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively
  • safe recruitment practices and ongoing safe working practices for individuals whom the organisation or agency permit to work regularly with children, including policies on when to obtain a criminal record check
  • appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training
  • creating a culture of safety, equality and protection within the services they provide

In addition:

  • employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role
  • staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and the procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare
  • all practitioners should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they have knowledge, skills and expertise that improve over time

To participate in the annual audit and for further information please follow the link here

How Wirral Safeguarding Children Partnership can Support your Organisation

Wirral Safeguarding Children Partnership is keen to support all voluntary, charity, social enterprise, faith-based organisations and private sectors to provide a safe environment in which children can flourish. You can get further advice by visiting the WSCP website here

We are also on hand to discuss your training requirements and can offer bespoke courses (at an additional cost) to support organisations if required. Email the training team to discuss your requirements.