Improving Protection for the At-Risk in Our Society; Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, Outlines the Importance of Recognising Good Practice When It Comes to Protecting and Safeguarding Vulnerable People

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Byline: Gwenda Thomas

PROTECTION and safeguarding of the most vulnerable members of society is a fundamental issue.

Legislation and policies to protect children in particular have evolved from the need to reform following significant and tragic failures in safeguarding procedures. We hear reports about abuse, neglect or poor standards in care with high-profile cases across the UK making the headlines.

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We must do everything possible to stop these significant and disturbing events happening.

But it concerns me that people may not recognise the tremendous care, support and respect offered in most cases and that every day many children and adults at risk are effectively safeguarded. We need to recognise good work, as we recognise when things go wrong.

The issue of abuse and neglect is a complex one, encompassing different types of harm in domestic, community and institutional settings.

I am determined to continually improve safeguarding and protection arrangements for the people of Wales.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill, which was introduced to the Assembly for scrutiny in January, is the first step to do just that.

If legislation is passed, it will provide the legal framework to transform social services in Wales improving the well-being of people who need care.

It will do this by giving people more freedom to decide which services they need while offering consistent, high-quality services. It will simplify the law to provide more clarity to users and their carers, local authorities and their partner organisations as well as the courts and judiciary.

I'm pleased that so much debate has been stimulated by the Bill. This is exactly the sort of engagement that will drive development of this vital legislation and I welcome that. Leadership is paramount. The establishment of the National Independent Safeguarding Board will be crucial to the success of our proposals.

The board will provide expert contributions on a range of safeguarding issues, advising on all aspects of policy and practice, reporting to me and other Welsh Ministers on how safeguarding arrangements could be improved further.

We want to reinforce that principle and that safeguarding is everyone's business. Collaboration and multi-agency working are essential.

We will establish Safeguarding Adults Boards in law for the first time in Wales and will reconfigure Safeguarding Children Boards so more effective collaboration can become a reality.

These boards will be responsible for co-ordinating the work of partner agencies in their area to protect those who are at risk of abuse or neglect, but also to ensure that suitable arrangements are in place to prevent people becoming the victims of abuse. …