Ministry of Justice publishes research into safeguarding processes in Child Contact Centres in England
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ), has recently published research into the extent to which individuals, when they are using contact centres in England, are protected from the risk of domestic abuse or, in the case of children, other harm.
Key findings of the report were:
- Contact centres provide an important service and enable thousands of parents/carers to have contact with their children safely;
- There is scope to improve both emotional safeguarding and the provision of specialist domestic abuse training for staff (Only 11% of surveyed staff and volunteers had received specialist domestic abuse training over the last 12 months);
- Findings highlight the importance of a system wide approach to safeguarding adults and children from the risk of domestic abuse and other harm.
Evidence-led recommendations of the research are to:
- Introduce robust, mandatory safeguarding and domestic abuse training for all contact centre staff and volunteers.
- Ensure robust, system wide approaches to risk assessment and risk management, including the provision of specialist support for parents/carers and children.
- Establish processes to centre the voice and experience of the child and parent/carer at all stages of parental involvement, i.e. from referral through to contact progression.
- Establish mechanisms to support and develop the role of contact centres in multi-agency risk assessment of families and children at a local level.
- Support greater exchange of learning and good practices, to improve consistency across contact centre practices and policies.
- Review funding and investment into contact centre provision to ensure locally accessible and affordable provision across England.
Child Contact Centres are vital but, more often than not, their capacity varies widely depending on which part of the country you reside in. If you are concerned over the arrangements for your children and are considering the use of a contact centre, it is important you also obtain legal advice not just in relation to this but on all options available to you. Contact our family team for more information and to book your initial consultation.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.