ICIAC 2012 Seminar Stream 4A

Abstracts and slides

Harm reduction (G)

Harm Based Priorities: a fresh approach for Strategic Assessments

Sam Hepenstal, Hampshire County Council

Key Words : Strategic Assessment, Harms, Priorities, Trading Standards
Slides: Hepenstal

I work for Hampshire County Council and I was approached to review the way that Trading Standards South East (TSSE) deliver intelligence products following the NIM. On initial scanning of the processes, it appeared that the strategic assessment to provide yearly priorities was unsuitable. The production of this document was time consuming, where a broad range of issues had to be considered. Fundamentally, the identified priorities missed key areas of business – being based purely upon numbers of complaints and broad categories of incidents. The seriousness of complaints was unconsidered. There was little information provided to examine the true nature of priorities, and most importantly, those identified did not respect harms, threats or risks in their prioritisation.

Analysis was performed into three areas of TSSE business. This formed an understanding about issues encountered and how to differentiate those cases of high severity and consumer detriment. For many complaints the activity i.e. the purchase, is consumer rather than trader driven, and complaints can amount to ‘civil’ or ‘no breaches’. Looking at trends based purely upon the number of complaints, therefore, may show more about purchasing patterns than problematic trader activity. In other cases, particularly those comprising ‘criminal’ breaches such as cold calls to vulnerable communities, the activity is trader driven. Understanding this, it is not possible to attribute the same level of harm to all complaints, even about a single complaint type. Through employment of the original process for strategic assessments, serious detriments do not feature as priorities if their numbers are low. In order to draw out the most serious issues which should become priorities at a strategic level I proposed a process which considers complaints based upon three areas of consumer detriment: consumer personal detriment i.e. issues affecting a consumers health; consumer financial detriment i.e. issues causing the most harm financially; and consumer emotional detriment i.e. sales practices such as harassment, high pressure selling and targeting of vulnerable groups, which are likely to cause distress to consumers.

By basing priorities upon threats, harms and risks, it was possible to narrow a very broad expanse of business areas and data to highlight key issues causing the most damage. In response to my findings the TSSE group adopted this proposal, in order to identify their priorities for the period 2012/13. The types of TSSE incident which contribute to each harm were established by Officer focus groups in order to harness tactical knowledge. The first strategic assessment using the harm process was completed in November. Evaluation of the impact of this process will be clearer following the documents publication, however early work indicates efficiency in identifying serious breaches. It is worth considering, while this process has been tailored to TSSE, whether other aspects of law enforcement may benefit from a process which moves away from ‘numbers’ as the focus, towards harms?

Predicting Harm: The Future of Safeguarding Children

Fiona Bohan, Devon Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, Devon and Cornwall Police

Key words: Safeguarding Children; Early Intervention; Prevention of Future Harm; Partnership Intelligence; Service Re-design
Slides: Bohan

Devon’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was an innovative response to the recommendations made by Lord Laming, serious case reviews and local safeguarding audits which noted that failures to share key pieces of intelligence between agencies was a critical risk within safeguarding decision-making for children and young people.  The MASH operates as a ‘sealed intelligence hub’ within which agencies (including police, social services, health, education, probation, youth offending teams, early years and third sector domestic abuse services) safely and securely share potentially sensitive information in order to make better safeguarding decisions. Nationally this model of working has been identified as best practice within ‘The Munro Review of Child Protection’, the ‘Ending Gang and Youth Violence’ strategy and the ‘Missing children and adults: a cross government strategy’ and is now being rolled out in several areas across the country.

The government’s ‘Troubled Families’ agenda recognises the impact that the country’s most needy families have on society - the MASH has the ability to identify these families.  However, the real potential of the MASH is its ability to predict and prevent future harm in order to stop these families reaching the critical threshold that makes them such a costly ‘Troubled Family’. The wealth of partnership information available within the MASH provides a much more comprehensive intelligence picture than any single agency has ever had before. Furthermore, through analysis of this information, the ability to identify trends, patterns and make projections can be made with a much greater level of confidence and validity since sensitive and non-sensitive information from all agencies is utilised. Within Devon this information is being used at both a strategic and operational level. At an operational level a partnership MASH Family Profiles meeting has been developed in order to identify Devon’s top repeat enquiries or ‘most needy’ families, identify those children most at risk of future harm, identify ‘missing’ children at high risk of harm or likely to be high risk in the future, and plan co-ordinated multi-agency interventions to reduce the level of risk associated with these children and families in the future. Previous research has indicated that if a family has a combination of three out of four risk factors (domestic abuse, mental health, substance misuse and past sexual abuse) then it is highly probable that the family will become one of the MASH’s top repeat families. A range of multiple risk factors are utilised in this identification of harm and future harm process and will be used to further develop the accuracy of the early risk matrix. At a strategic level the MASH is able to provide a geographic and demographic analysis overlaid against the areas of multiple risk factors in order to enhance our understanding of whether we have the correct services in the correct places.

By identifying the needy families of the future and influencing service re-design the MASH has the analytical potential to be a tool to break the intergenerational cycles of abuse and criminality.

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