CHILDREN deemed to be ‘at risk’ are in safe hands due to a collaborative effort from Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and NHS Borders, inspectors have found.

Both bodies have welcomed the publication of the findings of the Care Inspectorate’s Joint Inspection of Services for Children at Risk of Harm in Scottish Borders Planning Partnership that took place between November 2022 and April 2023.

Keeping children and young people safe from harm is a multi-agency responsibility undertaken by SBC, NHS Borders, Police Scotland and third sector partners, overseen by the Scottish Borders Public Protection Committee and the Critical Services Oversight Group (CSOG).

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The views and experiences of almost 200 children and young people and over 100 parents and carers were gathered by inspectors, with the newly published report noting that this high level of engagement reflected the partnership’s work to develop and maintain strong relationships.

The inspectors found important strengths that had significant positive impacts on children and young people’s experiences.

The report says: “Most children told us they felt safe where they lived all or most of the time, including throughout COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.

“The majority of parents and carers who responded to our survey reported workers acted quickly when concerns were first identified about their child, and, that their child was safer because of the help and support they received from workers.

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“The partnership was committed to adopting a ‘think family’ approach to managing risk across child and adult protection, and staff were encouraged to consider whole family well-being in their assessment of risk and need. Staff who worked with adults were clear about their role in sharing information about potential risks to children and they were supported in this through an online alert system.”

The report did find that some services to support children and young people recover from abuse, neglect and trauma were “not available in a timely manner”.

Additionally, improvement was needed to “ensure that the voice of children and families routinely and meaningfully influence service planning”.

But the report identifies a number of strengths, finding that children, young people and families benefited from “supportive and trusting relationships with staff across services”.

There was also recognition that the initial response to risk and concern to children was a strength and that staff took timely and appropriate action to keep children safe.

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A joint response to the report has been issued by Ralph Roberts, the chief executive of NHS Borders and chair of the Critical Services Oversight Group (CSOG), Chief Superintendent Catriona Paton, Police Scotland divisional commander and David Robertson, SBC’s chief executive.

It says: “The positive findings highlighted within the report reflect the hard work, knowledge and skills of Scottish Borders Council, NHS Borders, police and third sector colleagues who work collaboratively to keep children and young people safe from harm.

“We are all pleased with outcome of the inspection and report, but not complacent, and are already looking into areas in which we can strengthen connections across the partnership, develop and improve the service and process so we deliver the best possible service and support to children and young people in the Borders.

“We would like to give our thanks to all the staff, children, young people and families who participated in the inspection process and to all those who work alongside children, young people and their families to keep them safe from harm and improve outcomes.”

Councillor Caroline Cochrane, chair of the Community Planning Partnership, added: “I am delighted the Care Inspectorate has recognised the high quality of the service provided in the Scottish Borders and I would like to congratulate everyone involved.

“I take enormous comfort in knowing the services we provide are held with such regard by professionals and the families who receive the support.”