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Social workers join call handlers to support vulnerable people

As a part of the Early Action Together Programme two social workers and a protecting vulnerable people investigator are co-located alongside 999 and 101 call handlers from 5pm-1.00a.m. to enable shared information and to provide a professional and timely safeguarding response to vulnerable children and vulnerable adults.

The Early Action Together Programme was developed as a result of a partnership agreement between Public Health Wales and Policing and Criminal Justice partners across Wales. Early research by Public Health Wales into officer activity revealed that over 90% of engagement related to complex health and welfare needs.

There is an increasing body of evidence which demonstrates that traumatic events experienced during childhood can have long-term negative impacts on health and social outcomes, including involvement in inter-personal violence later in life (as perpetrator and/or victim) and a significantly higher risk of incarceration.

The Early Action Together Programme is a multi-agency working programme which supports the delivery of early and effective identification of risk to vulnerable people, and to preventing those risks from escalating.

By creating an `Early Help` system the needs of the vulnerable person can be better met no matter what time of the day or night, that signposts, supports and safeguards encompassing ‘blue light’, welfare and health services.

Vulnerable people come into contact with the police in a range of contexts, some involving potential criminality and some not. Irrespective of the context, it is necessary for professionals to consider the most appropriate support and intervention.

Deputy Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said:  “We are often the first agency to be in contact with children or families in need of help, so it makes sense for us to develop our response by making sure we, and our partners, intervene at the earliest opportunity.

“This does not mean that we need to be able to diagnose specific illnesses or disabilities, rather that we recognise when intervention from partner agencies, such as social services and health professionals, is necessary.

“Providing this additional support service to officers dealing with vulnerability provides that expert advice and signposting, in the knowledge that we are doing the best to protect those vulnerable people within our communities.

“This is a pilot to initially cover RCT, Merthyr and Bridgend and measures are in place to record the success of the pilot and scope for rolling out the service across the South Wales Police Force area and feedback from officers and members of our community has been positive.”

Councillor Tina Leyshon, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Early intervention and prevention are key to ensuring the safeguarding of both children and adults.

“I am pleased that the Council is part of this multi-agency approach to supporting vulnerable children and adults in Rhondda Cynon Taf, especially as there are often traumatic or complex issues that they are exposed to and find themselves in.

“Safeguarding vulnerable people is something the Council takes incredibly seriously, and by working closely with partners through the Early Action Together Programme we should be able to act quicker and earlier to prevent harm or further escalation.”