Investigation into two serious injuries to babies in Bedfordshire during lockdown
An investigation has been launched by Central Bedfordshire Council's social services into two serious injuries to babies during the coronavirus lockdown.
The situation matches the picture nationally since the pandemic began, Central Bedfordshire Council's children's services overview and scrutiny committee was told.
Agencies have been unable to see children as much as they used to, increasing risks for young people, according to the independent chairman of Central Bedfordshire safeguarding children board Alan Caton.
"It's really important children are still seen and are examined where appropriate because nationally we've seen a large number of more serious injuries to very young babies," he explained.
"Sadly in Central Bedfordshire we've had a couple of very serious injuries to babies which we're looking at closely now.
"Nothing is more important than the protection and welfare of our children.
"Those who need help and protection deserve the highest quality of support as soon as it's identified."
Mr Caton was presenting the Central Bedfordshire safeguarding children board annual report 2019/20 to councillors.
"We want a system which responds to the needs and interests of children and their families," he said.
"Changes have included moving from the old local protecting children board structure to new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements.
"These are led by the three safeguarding partners Bedfordshire Police, the BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group and the local authority."
His report covered the first year of the new arrangements in 2019/20, during which two other child serious case reviews were started.
"It's very important these cases are looked at," added Mr Caton.
"We've had two in this reporting period, a case we call Joe and a case we call Laura."
The report stated: "Joe was a 16-year old who came to the attention of services because of concerns around neglect, while living with his parents and siblings.
"Laura was a young person who was known to local services and had a history of multiple missing episodes, during one of which she was sexually assaulted."
Mr Caton warned: "It's vital when we do these case reviews and serious case reviews we understand what went wrong and that we implement the learning.
"Part of my role is to ensure those actions are followed through and front line practices change.
"With the wider criminal exploitation and sexual exploitation, which includes children being exploited into gangs, the increase of serious youth violence, and knife crime, these are all issues Central Bedfordshire isn't immune from.
"We need as a partnership to understand those issues. We looked at neglect, which is probably the main reason for children to be on a child protection plan.
"Mental health and mental wellbeing feature as well. The other thing we're looking at is internet safety and the use of social media through which alot of children are being exploited, so that's become a priority."
Mr Caton emphasized the close work of the board "with our neighbouring partners in Luton and Bedford borough, as the police and CCG operate across the whole county".
Referring to the importance of delivering this programme "on a pan-Bedfordshire basis", he said alot of good practice across the partnership is also highlighted.
"There are lots of increased referrals into children's services now particularly from the police attending domestic abuse incidents, which can have a detrimental effect on children and young people.
"As a partnership we look at children missing from home, missing from education and elective home education.
"There are some children at risk who can be hidden from services.
"Radicalisation and extremism, drugs, gangs we keep on top of all these, while understanding what the current issues are and that the training reflects this."