Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people


Learning from practice: Brent’s strategic vulnerable adolescents panel



As part of the contextual safeguarding project in Hackney, members of the contextual safeguarding team and Hackney contextual safeguarding champions are conducting a series of site visits to learn from existing regional and national examples of applying contextual approaches. We recently visited Brent Council to observe their vulnerable adolescents panel.

Brent is introducing contextual safeguarding approaches through a gradual culture change. One key step they have taken is to restructure their missing people’s panel into a strategic vulnerable adolescents panel. This panel brings together key partners chaired by the Operational Director, Integration and Improved Outcomes, Children and Young People, the Head of Community Protection, CYP Heads of Services, the Clinical Commissioning Group Safeguarding Leads, the Police (Detective Inspector), and the CYP Performance Manager.  The purpose of the panel is to:

  • Hold an overview of the most vulnerable and at risk adolescents in Brent including young people missing from home, care and/or education, gang involved, offending, violent, at risk of exploitation (including sexual, through gangs and drugs or radicalisation) and/or involved with sexually harmful behaviour
  • Develop a sense of emerging themes and trends based upon operational intelligence and comprehensive data analysis (including Youth Offending Service, Missing, Children Missing Education, exclusions, police, community safety and CSC data)
  • Ensure holistic needs of vulnerable adolescents are well understood at a strategic level to develop and improve services
  • Drive service improvements through an action plan

 Panel members focus on a case study each month that they have identified via multi-agency analysis work. This has increased wider staff engagement with contextual safeguarding as it gives members a chance to think through a variety of interventions from a range of professional perspectives and consider the perspective and journey of the young person.

 Brent has recently reviewed the cases and outcomes of the panel meetings to draw out some key themes and corresponding action points. They have identified that the rising numbers of exclusions from schools is increasing the vulnerability of some young people. In response to this, work is underway supporting schools at an earlier stage to intervene before exclusion. Another key theme highlighted through this panel was the increased vulnerabilities of young people with learning needs, demonstrating the importance of key partners, including the police, understanding learning needs and intervening in appropriate ways. 

One particularly innovative aspect of the vulnerable adolescents panel is the creation of a ‘vulnerable adolescents analyst’ post (soon to be recruited), which will support the panel to understand data systems from a variety of sources to identify vulnerable young people and coordinate interventions across the partnership. This process will enable the panel to understand the journey and assess any missed opportunities for future learning, helping them to identify what preventative work could have been conducted at an earlier stage.

We are grateful for having had the opportunity to learn from Brent and we wish them all the best in their work!

Posted: 02 May 2018

Author: Delphine Peace

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