UK Family Law Reform

Free information index

----- Original Message -----
From: john.grenfell@swansea.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 3:35 PM
Subject: RE: FOI Request SH3.00194974

Hi Dave

The All-Wales child protection procedures do not impose any legal obligations – legal obligations are imposed by statute or by statutory instrument and in cases of statutory guidance issued by the Welsh Government. In most cases local authorities will follow the All-Wales procedures as they are regarded as the most comprehensive set of approaches to child protection and have proven to be effective over the years, being developed by very experienced practitioners.

Recording and holding information on perpetrators is not part of any current duty on local authority social services in Wales and never has been. It might even potentially be unlawful for us to hold such a list due to the sensitivity of the information (i.e. allegations of criminal behaviour). The police service has more appropriate powers for holding this kind of information.

We hold data on individual children and within their records we will record issues that relate to allegations of abuse against individuals. We do link records of people known to each other but related information is generally held within free text and not automatically procesible.

Really speaking, this is a matter of national policy and I suggest it would be more appropriate for you to address any further queries on this specific issue to the Welsh Government either directly or via your AM.

Regards

John

----- Original Message -----
From: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
To: john.grenfell@swansea.gov.uk
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 3:15 PM
Subject: Re: FOI Request SH3.00194974

Dear John,

Are you saying the all-Wales child protection procedures do not legally require the City & County of Swansea council to collect & hold information on child abuse perpetrators?

Best regards Dave

----- Original Message -----
From: john.grenfell@swansea.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:12 PM
Subject: RE: FOI Request SH3.00194974

Hi David

(1) I’m afraid you didn’t mention perpetrators specifically in your original request and I interpreted your last question to refer to child abuse and not the perpetrator. Where people represent known or suspected risks to children, we record some detail in our systems. It would not be possible to extract summary information on this subject. People who represent the most severe risk to children are included on a register within our main system: currently there are 14 people on this register. We also become aware of abusers referred via the MAPPA & MARAC arrangements. I am not aware of a legal obligation on the local authority to keep specific records on alleged abusers but it is customary to keep such records as I have outlined. Data on numbers of MAPPA / MARAC would need to be sought from South Wales Police.

Identifying the number of people who abuse children could only ever be an approximate guess in any case: just some of the reasons why it is difficult to measure this include:-

· There are many kinds of abuse and each is important. Some types are harder to detect than others.

· Some perpetrators can go undetected.

· Not all cases are referred to social services (although they should be).

· Not all cases can be ‘proven’ to have involved abuse.

· There are a lot of malicious referrals and it is a serious matter to record a person as an abuser when in fact they are not.

· Children who witness abuse of adults can also be regarded as victims of abuse, even if they were not directly abused.

There are many other reasons why it is hard to measure this subject.

In any case, this authority follows the all-Wales child protection procedures which set out how local authorities should respond to allegations of abuse / neglect. We are regulated by the CSSIW and I am not aware of any adverse comment made by CSSIW to the effect that our arrangements for child protection are in any way lacking in respect of recording about perpetrators.

You may wish to look at the Bichard Inquiry report which covered issues relating to identifying and recording alleged abuse in the context of the Soham murder enquiry. The Inquiry made recommendations but there has been no regulation or legislation on this in Wales, where social care is a wholly-devolved responsibility of Welsh Government.

(2) The Constitution will have been approved by full Council (i.e. all Swansea’s elected ward councillors) with advice from the statutory Monitoring Officer.

Regards

John

----- Original Message -----
From: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
To: john.grenfell@swansea.gov.uk
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 12:16 PM
Subject: Re: FOI Request SH3.00194974

Dear John,

(1) I have looked at tables 6 & 8 & I don't see any information on the perpetrators of child abuse & I would like to know if the City & County of Swansea council is legally required to collect this information by the Welsh Government or not?

(2) Please will you also tell me who voted to adopted the City & County of Swansea's constitution?

Best regards Dave

----- Original Message -----
From: john.grenfell@swansea.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2014 6:10 PM
Subject: RE: FOI Request SH3.00194974

Dear Dave

(1) The details of the specific performance measurement return we are obliged to provide each year is at http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/childrens-services-performance-management-data-collection/?lang=en. These returns have been made in this form for over 20 years. The detail is accessible at http://wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2013/131114-childrens-services-performance-management-return-2012-13-en.pdf in particular Tables 6-8 relate to child protection. We are obliged to collect the information annually and it is submitted in May of each year for the previous financial year. This means that our systems are geared to gathering this information by means that are automatically processible. Clearly there is a considerable amount of information gathered on individual cases but this information is held in free text and it is not possible to process it automatically.

(2) While I am personally confident that our constitution is legal and democratic, I consider from the tenor of your questions that you are asking for an opinion. I would like to remind you that the Freedom of Information Act requires public authorities to provide information and not opinion. The constitution is publically available as directed in my previous correspondence and the authority’s Monitoring Officer would be in a better position to answer this question. I am not prepared to comment further on this kind of question other than to say that I don’t believe any public sector organisation would be so foolish as to publish online a constitution that was illegal or anti-democratic.

Regards

John

----- Original Message -----
From: john.grenfell@swansea.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2014 11:32 AM
Subject: FOI Request SH3.00194974
Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your request for information received on 27th January 2014.

Your request has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please find our responses to your individual questions below.

(a) the council authority, council officer and the name of that officer, who decides on what information on child neglect and abuse is collected & held by your council;

The information Swansea Social Services collects is prescribed by Welsh Government.

(b) the means by which that person is held to account by a member of the public for their performance in discharging that public function;

No individual staff member is accountable to individual members of the public. The Council’s Constitution is available at http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1758?Lang=eng

(c) the council authority, the council officer and the name of that officer, responsible for your child protection policies;

Dave Howes, Head of Child and Family Services

(d) the means by which that person is held to account by a member of the public for their performance in discharging that public function;

No individual staff member is accountable to individual members of the public. The Council’s Constitution is available at http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1758?Lang=eng

(e) how the function in (c) is properly discharged and held accountable for policies which would best effectively protect children from abuse if the person referred to in (a) does not collect any information on child abuse perpetration?"

Issues relating to the specification of items of data to be collected by a local authority in Wales are best directed to Welsh Government.

Yours sincerely

John Grenfell

Performance and Information Manager

City and County of Swansea

----- Original Message -----
From: Matthew.Dardecker@swansea.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2014 5:35 PM
Subject: FoI Response

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your request for information received on 30th December 2013.

You asked:

Please will you kindly tell me what the (a) gender and (b) familial relationship was to the child victim of offenders in substantiated child abuse cases in the area which you have a duty to protect children from abuse for the last full year which figures are available, broken down by (i) physical abuse, (ii) emotional abuse, (iii) sexual abuse and (iv) cases of neglect.

Our response:

Under Section 21 (Information is reasonably accessible by other means) of the FoI Act 2000 we can confirm that much of the information requested is available publically on the StatsWales website. It can be found via the following URL:

https://statswales.wales.gov.uk/Catalogue/Health-and-Social-Care/Social-Services/Childrens-Services/Service-Provision/ChildrenOnChildProtectionRegister-by-LocalAuthority-CategoryOfAbuse-AgeGroup

Section 21 of the Act is an absolute exemption and therefore no public interest test applies.

However, the gender of offenders, as well as their familial relationships to the child victims, is not held in a reportable format. To determine this information would require a manual exercise in which children’s individual records are retrieved and then searched for this data. During 2012-13, 317 children were added to the child protection register. To undertake this exercise, as a conservative estimate, would take 30 minutes per case. In total, therefore, this work would equate to over 158 hours of officer time and thus exceed the costs threshold contained within the Act.

The costs threshold is currently £450, calculated on the basis of 18 hours of work at £25 per hour.

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request a review by writing to the Corporate Complaints Manager, City & County of Swansea, Room 2.2.3, The Civic Centre, Swansea SA1 3SN.

If you are still unhappy with the handling of your request, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office – Wales,

2nd Floor, Churchill House,

Churchill Way,

Cardiff CF10 2HH

Telephone: 029 2067 8400

wales@ico.gsi.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

John Grenfell

Performance and Information Manager

Directorate of People

01792 636765

John.grenfell2@swansea.gov.uk

Kind regards

Matthew Dardecker

Freedom of Information Officer

Swansea Social Services

administrator@swansea.gov.uk

Who do local authorities protect children from? 28th December 2013

http://www.ukfamilylawreform.co.uk/abuse.htm