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Multi-Agency Working and Information Sharing Project: Early Findings

The purpose of this paper is to provide some early findings from a Home Office funded project to improve national and local understanding of the different local multi-agency models in place to support information sharing around safeguarding responses for children and vulnerable people.

The project aimed to develop a national picture of the range of innovative approaches in place locally for example through Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH), co-located assessment or specialist teams – which appeared to be driving improved safeguarding approaches for children and vulnerable adults through better information sharing and high quality and timely safeguarding responses.

The project, led by National Policing colleagues, visited nine regions in England between January 2013 and March 2013 including a sample of up to five Local Authorities/local partner agencies. 37 local area visits were ubdertaken in total selected from an intial survrry to all local authority areas.

This report provides some early findings from these 37 visits as a more detailed feedback from a sample of 17 local area visits were undertaken in total selected from an initial survey to all local authority areas.  Case studies are also included. The findings represent the views of a sample of local authority areas visited and have not been subject to external evaluation or validation. Early findings are being shared in order to facilitate the exchange of information, views and experiences of these areas to inform strategic decision makers considering their local multi-agency approaches and responses.

Recognising that every local area will face differing multi-agency challenges and that the safeguarding threats and issues will vary across areas this report does not endorse any particular model to delivering effective multi-agency approaches. Whilst certain factors (for example co-location) are cited as key success factors by many areas, Government is clear that good practice can take many forms and many effective areas will seek their own innovative solutions to overcoming any barriers identified to successful multi-agency working.

These findings must therefore be read alongside existing statutory guidance and local authorities and their partners must decide for themselves how to provide excellent services in line with their statutory requirements. Agencies should also ensure in any approaches that they comply with statutory frameworks and legislative requirements in relation to any information sharing arrangements.