Insights

Chris Rose: 4 minute read

Safeguarding moved behind closed doors

Safeguarding is a global concern.

We are capable as a species of great acts of compassion but also of inaction. For too many years organisations have not been able to see what is happening in their back yard.

Safeguarding breaches have occurred and shared on front pages. Organisations have been lost and others are still rebuilding their reputations, it is a mark of the world we live in. It is something that has increased following on from the outbreak of COVID-19.

The risks enabled by a global pandemic

The primary concern within this train of thought is that those who are living in abusive households were suddenly trapped. Home visits by social workers were required to be paused during the pandemic. Those who needed to be visible were left with only limited reasons to leave the home. They were trapped.

Phone calls can be made, alongside video calls but these can be limited. Intimidation can be a limiting factor when those who are vulnerable know the consequences of ‘talking’.

The risks of isolation for those who need support the most were heightened by the global pandemic. Those who needed to be seen were ‘locked’ in their homes. People were not locked in their homes by the police, but locks aren’t always visual.

The end of lockdown?

Restrictions have slowly been eased, pubs and restaurants re-opened and life has found a new normal. This however has not been the case for everyone.  

Some are still trapped in these unhappy homes, looking over their shoulders, waiting for a potential second lockdown. This is their waking nightmare and with such a dramatic increase in calls to help services during the first lockdown, the second would be set to be much worse.

‘More than 40,000 calls and contacts were made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline during the first three months of lockdown’
BBC News, Coronavirus: Domestic abuse helpline sees lockdown surge

This equates to an increase of 80% when compared to the normal. It is a huge increase and whilst the majority of those calling the helpline were women, there were increases from each gender. The underlying fact here is that by keeping people at home, existing issues were accentuated.

The escape outlets that many people in domestic abuse situations cling to have been limited, which has left them home, dreading each day.

The benefits of technology

Technology offers the chance to report concerns at the click of a button. It enables those who are unable or unwilling to come forward, to receive the support they need. Every time they encounter a public area such as a school or hospital, observations can be logged and shared as required. The more organisations that are working together on a shared vision, on a shared service the better.

Whilst vulnerable individuals may be hidden at home, they will be visible to those who know what they are looking for, the public. Whilst additional training can be provided, we are all human and we are all able to spot what does not look right. It is the ability to report it anonymously and to the right person, who will be able to raise the concern that is missing.

Technology and efficient processes that place those who are suffering at the centre are what we need to move towards as a society.

How does the technology work behind closed doors?

It is very easy to say that we could all invest in software solutions and that would solve all issues, but it does not.

Technology enables those wanting to flag concerns a route to do so. It enables a method to ensure that all concerns are appropriately managed, but what about those that don’t feel like they are abused? What about those who are too scared to alert anyone or access to technology is taken away.

During the lockdown, many of the traditional sources of escape, when trauma can be seen were closed.

In this delicate situation, possessions can be broken and control of the internet and or devices can be prevalent. In this situation, you must ask how those that are vulnerable can get the help that they need? Fear is how these households run.

Neighbours become essential in these situations. They can be the voice of the voiceless in a time of closed doors and masks. By ensuring that solutions are made available to the public, at least in a limited form, enables additional protection from those who are vulnerable.

The ability for neighbours to raise concerns in this manner does rely on the fact that no intimidation would be present. It would also open the doors to additional checks being undertaken, but through use of the phone, many of these can be cleaned up early.

Responsible individuals can call the house and assess the situation at the first stage. Then if alarm bells are raised, a distanced visit can take place, all of which being enacted through a dedicated solution.

Working together with technology

People working in partnership to protect those who are vulnerable is the goal that we should be aiming for. Add a sprinkle of technology into the mix and the net of protection grows. The more people who know how to raise effective concerns at all times of the day is what those who are living with domestic abuse need.

Beyond this, safeguarding concerns that take place in homes can be raised by members of staff, family members or other residents. The same can be true within the school or workplace. The examples here can be extended but the underlying point is the same, people working in partnership with technology that is available anywhere is how safeguarding is most effective.  

A final thought

Safeguarding is a top-level concern. We should all be aware of the risks as the world we live in is not perfect. It is a global ideal that we need to keep close to our hearts. 

COVID-19 cancelled clubs, moved schools into the homestead and removed release valves from the reach of those who needed them. It was and still is for many vulnerable families a major concern, especially with the fear of a second national lockdown on the horizon. Safeguarding fears can be difficult to spot when they are kept home, and something needs to change.

Technology has opened opportunities to record safeguarding concerns from anywhere, at any time. Those with concerns can raise them anonymously. This removes the concerns of reprisal and ensures that those who need protection, receive it. Systems of this nature are in their infancy and we are proud to support organisations that have taken the leap of faith.

We have clients who have chosen technology. They have seen not only the benefits but the reusability of the system, which meets the moral imperative of safeguarding. We live in an era where technology and the importance of it have been highlighted to the world. For safeguarding best practice needs to be shared. We need to take the lessons of the past and apply them to the solutions of today to make a difference.