Why specialist safeguarding units won’t work

Following Sir Alan Wood calling for the establishment of specialist child protection teams to create “… a highly skilled high performing group of staff that can ‘smell’ the cases likely to lead to death and serious injury”. The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s report on the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson similarly recommended that multi-agency child protection units (MACPU) be established in every local authority with the expertise of children’s social care concentrated in them. The Department for Education is now considering whether to implement this recommendation and here’s why they shouldn’t:

My article in Community Care shows they have no evidence base and that what evidence there is suggests they would make matters worse through continuing the focus on investigations and devaluing relationship based work and community initiatives

Since then I prepared the paper below for a meeting that provides more of the evidence and shows that:

  • Multi-agency units unlikely to promote the change in culture the Independent Review seeks to promote
  • Multi-agency child protection units are unlikely to reduce serious incidents
  • Multi-agency teams are not a practical proposition because of the amount of proposed work and limitations in staffing