Press release

New joint inspections to hold agencies to account

Local agencies failing to work together effectively to protect vulnerable children will be held to account by new joint targeted inspections

Childrens home

Local agencies that are failing to work together effectively to protect vulnerable children will be held to account by new joint targeted inspections, it was announced today (Wednesday 15 July).

Joint Targeted Area Inspections (JTAI) are to be introduced from autumn this year by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.

They will specifically examine how well local authorities, health, police and probation services work together in a particular area to safeguard children. The new inspections aim to shine a light on both good and poor practice, identifying examples from which others can learn and helping local agencies to improve.

The proposals, set out in a consultation launched today (Wednesday 15 July), will give inspectorates more flexibility and the ability to be responsive to certain areas of interest or concern.

Each inspection is to include a ‘deep dive’ element, with the first 6 set to focus on children at risk of sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school or care. Further inspections will look at other issues by theme.

Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s Chief Operating Officer said:

The responsibility for protecting children does not rest with one service alone. We know that successful partnership working across a range of agencies is absolutely vital if children are to be effectively safeguarded. While many areas do this well, others do not.

Our proposed new inspections are shorter and more flexible. They will allow us to act swiftly where we are concerned about specific issues in an area so we can ensure that every agency is doing its part to protect our most vulnerable children.

We hope they will add to the public debate, support improvement and most importantly have a positive impact on the experiences of children and young people.

The experiences of children and young people are at the heart of the proposed model. Inspectors from across all 4 inspectorates will work in small multi-disciplinary teams jointly tracking and sampling cases to assess the progress and outcomes for children and young people at risk of harm. This will complement the single agency inspections and provide a joined up evaluation of how well the agencies work together to protect children.

Under the proposals the final report will include a narrative judgement that clearly sets out how the local partnership and the agencies who are part of it are performing and what they need to do to improve.

Matthew Coffey continued:

Collective working with our fellow inspectorates has identified real benefits when we jointly assess how well local agencies work together to protect and care for vulnerable children. We are committed to this approach.

We have listened to valuable feedback from frontline professionals and previous pilots that has helped to shape these proposals. We would urge anyone with expertise in children’s services or child protection to take part in this consultation to further inform how these important inspections will work in practice.

Ofsted is also consulting on the use of the shorter joint targeted inspection model to undertake its own single agency targeted area inspections of local authorities and Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs).

Used alongside Ofsted’s current inspections of local authorities, the proposals will provide additional means to act proportionately and responsively in areas where risks are identified - without adding unduly to the burden on local authorities.

The consultation can be found online. It opens at 9:30 15 July 2015 and closes on 11 August 2015.

Quotes from inspectorates

CQC deputy chief inspector, Sue McMillan, said:

CQC is committed to the programme of joint inspection. Decades of inquiries have taught us that it is whole systems that fail children and young people and inspection must focus on how organisations work together to protect them.

We welcome the joint targeted area inspection proposals and urge you to respond to this consultation. We’d like to hear the views of as many people as possible to help us build this critical inspection programme.

HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams, said:

It is vitally important the local agencies with a role to play in protecting children do so in a cooperative and effective way, in order to provide the highest level of service to children.

The consultation launched today includes proposals that will allow the organisations that inspect and regulate these agencies to develop flexibility to respond to specific areas of concern, which will increase the public scrutiny that encourages improvement.

The focus of this work should always be the needs of the child - by working together we can ensure that the welfare of children is at the heart of what we do. I encourage people to give their views to this important consultation, so together we can strive to do better.

HM Chief Inspector of Probation, Paul Wilson, said:

We support a joint approach to inspecting child protection work. For child protection work to be effective, everyone has to work together and this goes for inspectorates as well. We look forward to developing the new programme and raising the profile of what Youth Offending Teams and Probation can do to help protect children.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), academies, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  2. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am – 6.00pm Monday – Friday.
  3. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. It makes sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, caring, well-led and responsive care, and encourages care services to improve. It monitors, inspects and regulates services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and publishes what it finds to help people choose care.
  4. HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales, together with other major policing bodies.
  5. HMI Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with adults, children and young people who have offended, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public. More information about the work of HMI Probation can be found on the HMI Probation website.
Published 15 July 2015