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About this book

As more and more people and organisations are affected by the austerity agenda and cuts to public services, there is increased risk that the person-centred nature of safeguarding practice will be consumed by procedure and managerialism.

With a unique focus on safeguarding both adults and children, this important text considers the professional responsibilities not just of social workers, but of practitioners across a range of Health, Police, Education and voluntary services who will often be involved in the process of protecting the more vulnerable members of society. Including in-depth analysis of the relevant research literature, as well as official evidence from Serious Case Reviews, the book will broaden readers' knowledge and understanding of the specialist skills required to practice safeguarding effectively, as well as of the need for agencies and professionals to communicate and work collaboratively in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Using explicit learning objectives and reflective questions to encourage readers to think critically about their own assumptions in practice, the book provides coverage of topics such as:

• The significance of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in safeguarding adults
• The complexities of safeguarding children in cases of parental substance misuse
• The impact of social media and digitisation on safeguarding practice
• The tensions involved in safeguarding practice within different cultures
• The challenges of interprofessional safeguarding in relation to domestic abuse

Written by a team of expert authors, this impressive volume is a comprehensive sourcebook for students and practitioners alike.

Table of Contents


There are already many books and articles as well as a raft of policies and procedures which consider issues relating to safeguarding, many of which will underpin the analyses of the authors of the different chapters in this book. The vast majority of these focus on either the protection of children or the safeguarding of adults. This reflects the way in which services are often separated into adults’ and children’s services, but they do not necessarily reflect the reality of the lives of people who may be involved in safeguarding investigations. The protection of children may entail working with people who as adults could also be perceived as having vulnerabilities. The move from a supporting and enabling relationship to taking on the role of imposing sanctions against the wishes of an individual can be very hard for those who have to make such decisions (Brown, 2011). In practice, practitioners often have to work with dilemmas, fluidity and uncertainty. There is rarely a situation where there are not some tensions between risks and rights, between protection and empowerment or among competing priorities.
Georgina Koubel

Safeguarding: Building Knowledge and Understanding


1. Constructing Safeguarding

Known until recently (and possibly still in many cases, as the terms go back and forth in popularity within government policy and common usage) as the protection of adults and children, safeguarding has now become a major item on society’s agenda. At one time, it was a matter for professionals to sort out, but every day there seems to be a new tragedy or scandal or concern that could be said to fit within the safeguarding remit. The concept that some people are vulnerable and need protection has now been reconfigured within a more encompassing notion of ‘safeguarding’. Whether this will change expectations of what practitioners can achieve in facing the complexities and dilemmas that beset their interventions in this field, the roles and tasks involved in both safeguarding children and safeguarding adults termed vulnerable or at risk of harm require those involved to develop a good understanding of the meaning of the various concepts that inform this process of managing risk and uncertainty in society. The way society responds to issues around safeguarding depends to an extent on the way in which concepts such as safeguarding and abuse are framed and talked about.
Georgina Koubel

2. Safeguarding and Social Work with Children

‘The welfare of the child is paramount’: this is the legislative basis underpinning practice to safeguard children, and establishes the principle for all those who work with children and their families. However, this is not as straightforward as it may seem, and throughout this chapter we explore the complexity of protecting children and young people from harm, given the current issues facing children and their families and the need to balance their rights and risks.
Cheryl Yardley

3. Learning from Serious Case Reviews (Children)

One of the most important sources of learning about what works and, particularly, what doesn’t work well in safeguarding is the information that emerges from the process of carrying out serious case reviews (SCRs) into situations where a child is killed or seriously injured. The main focus and evidence for this chapter will be culled from SCRs undertaken in England and Wales. As the role of safeguarding has become a greater legal and professional concern for a wider range of professionals, particularly in relation to children and young people since the Children Act 2004, the range of situations in which professional responsibility and inter-professional collaboration has widened. Current concerns for child sexual exploitation reflect not only the greater risk to vulnerable young people in the modern age but also the extent to which professionals need to be vigilant to signs of exploitation and to respond appropriately to referrals of concern (Oxfordshire SCR, Bedford, 2015).
Cathy Pilkington

4. Learning from Serious Case Reviews (Adults and Mental Health Inquiries)

Although there are a number of similarities for practitioner learning between children’s serious case reviews (SCRs) and inquiries into adult abuse, there are significant differences in the types of practice issues and the location of abusive events. Two particular areas that stand out in relation to adults are (i) the tensions between choice and capacity and the question of how to promote the self-determination of adults while also recognising the implications of vulnerability (Martin, 2007; Brown, 2010) and (ii) the relative prominence relating to issues of institutional abuse. Large-scale inquiries into residential establishments for children dominated the period of the 1990s (Corby, 2004), but institutional abuse is a feature of many inquiries into older adults and adults with learning disabilities.
Cathy Pilkington

5. Safeguarding Adults and the Law: The Significance of the Mental Capacity Act 2005

In considering concepts and practice in safeguarding adults and children, we need to examine how individuals and groups come to be subjects of concern as regards their well-being, and any potential need they have to be safeguarded. Vulnerability is a fluid concept and heavily relies upon circumstances and factors that shift and change; it is clearly influenced by people’s perceptions of others, which in turn is influenced by knowledge and power, but most certainly by who holds that knowledge and power.
Matthew Graham

Safeguarding: Working Through Dilemmas in Practice


6. Parental Substance Misuse and Safeguarding Children

This chapter seeks to both illuminate parental substance misuse (PSM) and develop awareness of its impact on three key domains: family life, parents’ ability to care for their children and children’s well-being. For the conscientious, non-specialist practitioner working with an array of issues stemming from parental substance misuse, a number of professional challenges need to be negotiated en route to achieving more effective child safeguarding practice. This demands of the practitioner the ability to adopt a breadth of perspective and an evidence-informed approach while also maintaining a professional objectivity throughout the overarching process of assessment, planning, intervention, review and evaluation (ASPIRE), each step with its respective activities.
Bob Cecil

7. Safeguarding Children with Disabilities

Although children may be deemed vulnerable because of their age and circumstances, disabled children have additional needs which may make working in the area of safeguarding even more demanding. This chapter looks at the additional demands that working with children with disabilities and their families/carers can place on social workers and other professionals. It is important to apply the principles of the social model of disability and recognise that in many cases the complexities of working with disabled children arise not from the children themselves but rather from a societal response to disability reflected in language, attitudes and behaviour. The first section explores the discussions reflected in the literature around the contested use of language and terminology in the area of disability. We review research which highlights the individual nature of disability and challenges around definitions, and then examine working with parents and carers of disabled children. Finally, issues for practitioners, such as communication and attitudes towards disability, are discussed. A case example brings together many of the relevant issues to demonstrate the complexity of safeguarding disabled children. For brevity, ‘children’ in this chapter includes children and young people under the age of 18. The definition of disability in this chapter is inclusive and is taken from the Equality Act (2010:6.1).
Tim Odell

8. Safeguarding in Learning Disability Practice: Rights, Risk, Vulnerability and Empowerment

The past hundred years have seen radical changes in the experiences of individuals with a learning disability. Theories and models developed provided alternatives to the medicalisation of illness and disability and the expert-led medical model of disability that emerged with the development of the medical profession (Barnes, Mercer and Shakespeare, 1999). Theories such as normalisation (Wolfensburger, 1983) and O’Brien’s five accomplishments (1986, cited in Braye and Preston-Shoot, 1995) focused on the broader social and cultural processes that affect inclusion in society and present barriers for individuals with a disability. A social model of disability and, in turn, the social model of vulnerability began to develop, recognising that individuals with a learning disability have the same rights as all citizens in society, who are more empowered to live their own lives and make their own decisions.
Julie Potten

9. Safeguarding and Mental Health

The organisation of services for those with mental illness historically consisted of treatment in institutions, with public asylums in the Victorian Age representing the first attempts to provide systematic care, underpinned by legislation. This form of care remained the main model of psychiatric care until the 1960s, when a combination of new pharmacological treatments, sociological theories concerning institutionalisation and concerns about human rights started the ‘de-institutionalisation’ movement – providing care in community settings.
Charley Melville-Wiseman

10. Safeguarding Older People

Our understanding of ageing depends to a large extent on our understanding of the context in which people are growing older (Gilleard and Higgs, 2005) and in particular the significance of elements such as the demographics that frame the current picture of an ageing population. For the United Kingdom, a significant factor is the growing proportion of older people now living within the population. In the past 40 years, there has been a 24 per cent increase in the number of people aged 50 and over, and by the year 2033, it is predicted that 23 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom will be aged 65 or over. At the same time, the number of people aged 85 and over is set to double to reach 3.2 million (5% of the population as a whole). This trend continues, with the number of people aged 90 and above projected to more than triple and the number of people aged 95 and above projected to more than quadruple (ONS, 2009).
Hilary Brighton

Safeguarding: Engaging with Complex and Emerging Issues


11. Safeguarding in the Context of Cultural Difference

Safeguarding is an area that affects all sections of the population. Practitioners often struggle with conflicts around respecting cultural diversity while also setting consistent limits and boundaries in relation to the treatment of children and vulnerable adults. In June 2015, High Court Judge Pauffley raised controversy by saying ‘proper allowance must be made for what is, almost certainly, a different cultural context’. With globalisation, UK society is increasingly open to diversity and cultural difference; there is a need to be aware of the impact of this diversity on safeguarding. There is increased movement of people across the world, moving from situations of poverty and war to seek better lives.
Helen Carr

12. Interprofessional Working in Safeguarding: The Challenge of Domestic Abuse

One of the themes of this book has been about learning the lessons that have emerged from serious case reviews. Two factors which feature regularly within the findings are the difficulties within communication and information sharing among professionals and agencies, and all too often in serious case reviews (e.g. in the case of Daniel Pelka, 2013), there emerges within the chronology evidence of long-term domestic abuse which has not been addressed as effectively as it could have been. The links between domestic abuse and safeguarding can often be blurred and difficult to untangle, but in order to address the safeguarding needs of children and vulnerable adults, this chapter provides an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the nature of domestic abuse and its implications for safeguarding. The chapter also examines the process of information sharing and the quality of collaborative working among a range of professionals and agencies which may all have some knowledge of the situation involving domestic abuse.
Sari Sirkiä-Weaver

13. Safeguarding: The Abuse of Power and the Betrayal of Trust

Media coverage of abuse, particularly relating to sexual abuse by public figures, has ignited a heated general debate about the abuse of trust that children and adults in vulnerable positions have experienced and about who should be held responsible for protecting those individuals from abuse. Practitioners in statutory, voluntary, private and religious settings all share privileges conferred by power and position that maintain and interact with dynamics of authority, accountability, dependency and trust. This position of privilege and power attaches to opportunities for safeguarding intervention but also raises the possibility of practitioners abusing such roles, which are often based on ‘givens’ such as trust and authority. This highlights the problem within services of the potential for ‘care’ to become corrupted and in some cases for practitioners to become the agents of harm to individuals in situations of dependence (Melville- Wiseman, 2013; Wardaugh and Wilding, 1998). Their conduct should therefore be open to particular scrutiny.
Janet Melville-Wiseman

14. Safeguarding in the digital age

Safeguarding, being embedded in society, is a constantly moving and everchanging kaleidoscope of emergent and challenging issues. This chapter looks at some ways of trying to understand areas that have more recently come to the fore, particularly the question of the impact of social media and the safeguarding of children as well as the potential for benefits and harm for adults. As a society, we are becoming aware of the fact that some people may use social media to target and groom children and vulnerable adults. It is already apparent that this cannot be the concern of merely one sector of society, and there are times when parents, social workers, the police and health and education professionals, among many others, will need to revise their roles and responsibilities to work together to address issues as they emerge within this area.
Georgina Koubel, Marnie Johnston
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