Professionals working with at risk youngsters and adults have a responsibility to move away from a ‘silo mentality’ and share information, resources and concerns.
And where children or adults are in danger, professionals need to be able to step outside of their own remit and move towards essential cross working.
The comments come from a West Midlands lawyer in the light of a recent Ofsted report into Walsall Council’s children’s services.
The report rated the service as ‘requires improvement to be good’ and claimed social workers ‘do not always sufficiently understand’ the impact of children living in situations of domestic abuse and neglect. It covered an inspection into services for children across the borough and a review of the effectiveness of the Walsall Safeguarding Children Board.
“Lawyers are often in a privileged and unique position,” said Annabel Kay, an Associate in the Private Client team at Higgs & Sons. “We have a role to play in both alerting and supporting other services to potential danger signs.
“Although there is a temptation to do only that which fulfils our professional remit, we need to move away from that thinking and place safeguarding at the centre of what we do.
“Even though everyone is working under pressure we need to move away from silo working.”
Silo mentality is a mindset which is inward looking and resists sharing information and resources with other people or departments within the organisation.
Annabel added: “When the safety of vulnerable children or adults is under threat, lawyers working in this very difficult area can often feel equally as under pressure as social workers.
“But lawyers must be confident in raising concerns and asking questions – even if the issues are not directly related to the law. If they suspect that anybody’s safety is under threat they need to step outside of their usual remit to ensure that safeguarding has been upheld.”
Safeguarding was at the centre of a seminar offered by Higgs & Sons specialist lawyers on Tuesday 19th September.