Data sharing practices should be overhauled

At the recent Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual conference, President Gavin Thomas told those in attendance that sharing practices need to be overhauled to prevent ‘vulnerability’ from becoming the new volume crime. A strong statement but one that is backed up by the facts.

Since 2007/8, the number of domestic abuse incidents reported has increased by 43 per cent, with nearly a million reports being made in 2014/15 alone. In addition to this, the number of registered sex offenders has increased by 53 per cent over the same time frame and 281,000 missing incidents were recorded. If we continue to break these statistics down, then we see a more disturbing trend begin to take shape. Currently, there are 43 police forces in England and Wales and if we use the million reports made in 2014/15, then we see that each police force will deal with an average of 64 incidents a day, or 2.65 per hour.

Data Sharing

During the conference Mr. Thomas spoke about regional forums and the spread of ideas. He praised the work that these forums are doing and the open nature of them but said that ideas were not being spread quick enough.

He said: “There cannot be any more important job in policing than to protect children and the vulnerable and the lifeblood, the DNA that we require to do that job, is having information available to be able to discharge that duty.

“Professionals… need the data and information, and it goes beyond policing itself. We need to share that data with partners, and frankly I don’t think that is happening as efficiently as it should.

“It seems bizarre to me that the only time we know all the information all agencies hold on a child is when we do a serious case review. 

“Would it not be a novel thing in the 21st century to have that information with the right person, at the right time and at the right place?”

Strong words but words that emphasise the serious nature of the problem. A recent survey conducted by the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW) found that 65 per cent of members that responded felt that the current model of policing vulnerability was unsustainable. A further 81 per cent agreed that sharing data could be improved.   

A change is clearly needed but where do you start? Mr. Thomas recommended in his speech that alongside the need to improve data sharing practices, a cultural change was also needed. He proposed a cultural change to make sure that any good practice that develops is quickly disseminated through the service rather than blocked.

In addition to these proposed changes, he also recommended introducing well-being assessments for officers before they go into public protection roles. The addition of these assessments would ensure that officers appointed to the public protection roles were suitable for the roles.

The introduction of Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs are an effective way that Police can share information and should be welcomed. A Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is the single point of contact for all professionals to report safeguarding concerns. Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs are being set up across the country safeguarding children or adults or both.

The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub brings together an expert team of multi-disciplinary professionals from partner agencies to deal with all safeguarding concerns, where someone is concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child or adult. Within the MASH, information from partner agencies is collated to assess risk and decide what action to take. As a result, the agencies will be able to act quickly, in a coordinated and consistent way, ensuring that vulnerable children and families are kept safe from harm.

In addition to these proposed changes, he also recommended introducing well-being assessments for officers before they go into public protection roles. The addition of these assessments would ensure that officers appointed to the public protection roles were suitable for the roles.

Software that supports effective Multi Agency Safeguarding

OLM’s Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) software application, Guardian, has been specifically designed to support effective multi agency safeguarding and eliminate a lot of these problems. It is a flexible and configurable solution, built in partnership with Devon County Council, the original creators of MASH. It has been specifically designed to support the recording and process management needs of the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub process. More than 20% of the UK’s MASH hubs now use OLM’s Guardian.

At the start of the year we implemented Guardian at Wolverhampton City Council. Before implementing, Wolverhampton didn’t have a standing system, but relied on cases being referred on a case-by-case basis, with no formal system in place to monitor outcomes. With the introduction of Guardian, Wolverhampton, are now able to effectively monitor cases and safeguard the lives of adults and children in the city.  

Within the first six weeks of using Guardian, 319 cases were added to the system, which is the equivalent to more than 50 cases per week. 73 of these were classified as red and needing urgent referral. Guardian helped facilitate the efficient multi agency response and referral of these cases, so that those in danger, received the support that they needed.

For more information or to arrange for a free, no obligation demonstration of our Platform for Care, please contact us today!