Joint Inspectorate Review of Child Protection Arrangements (JICPA) acknowledge strengths in Cardiff




The findings of a Joint Inspection of Child Protection Arrangements (JICPA) by Cardiff Council, South Wales Police and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have been published.

The extensive review focused on evaluating the city's multi-agency response to abuse and neglect allegations, assessment and decision-making quality, protection of children aged 11 and under at risk of harm, leadership, and management effectiveness in child protection efforts and the robustness of multi-agency safeguarding partner arrangements.

Conducted by Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) and His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales (Estyn), key findings include:

  • High Demand and Complexity:Cardiff is facing persistently high levels of demand and increasing complexity in children's safeguarding. Despite challenges such as budget constraints and workforce deficits, there is a positive focus on safeguarding across agencies.
  • Positive Partnership Working:Professional relationships across agencies are robust, with a culture of safeguarding promoted as a collective responsibility. Recent changes in governance arrangements aim to strengthen monitoring, accountability, and coordination across the partnership.
  • Effective Multi-Agency Response:The multi-agency response to safeguarding referrals is generally proportionate and thorough, with a focus on the needs of the child and timely action to reduce risks of harm.
  • Strengths-Based Approach:Cardiff adopts a strengths-based and solution-led approach, ensuring families are involved in the design and delivery of care and support protection plans. Evidence-based approaches are utilised to reduce risks and meet children's needs.
  • Education Excellence:Cardiff schools prioritise safeguarding, ensuring learners are safe and supported. Strong partnerships between education and children's services facilitate continuous improvement and targeted support for vulnerable pupils.
  • Promotion of Cultural Sensitivity:Practitioners demonstrate a good understanding of cultural needs and prioritise culturally sensitive practices, ensuring effective engagement with diverse communities.

The report highlights several significant achievements specifically across Cardiff Council's Children's Services and Education:

Children's Services:

  • Strong understanding of local needs:Senior managers have a solid grasp of the population's needs, aligning services accordingly. This has led to positive feedback from staff, indicating effective support and supervision, as well as managerial oversight of key safeguarding decisions.
  • Commitment to staff continuity:Although the local authority has relied on temporary staff to maintain team strength, it's encouraging that vacancies are reducing, and more permanent staff are being employed. This helps strengthen continuity of practitioners for children and families, fostering trust and confidence.
  • Continuous improvement and quality assurance:Leaders and senior managers are dedicated to securing and monitoring improvements in children's services, with systems in place to ensure compliance with legal requirements and good practice standards. A quality assurance team has been established to promote continuous improvement through auditing and learning.
  • Child focussed practices and advocacy:Practitioners in Cardiff use solution-focused approaches, engaging children and families in safety planning meetings and family group conferences. Advocacy is a core component of children's services, with time and resources invested in promoting the active offer to ensure children's voices are heard.
  • Collaborative Approach to Preventing Escalation:The local authority promotes early intervention to prevent risks from escalating, with a positive approach to raising awareness about risks such as exploitation. Interventions like the Adolescent Resource Centre (ARC) and Family Support Teams are valued for their therapeutic and parenting programs, aimed at reducing risks to children.
  • Culturally Sensitive Practices and Welsh Language Proficiency:Practitioners demonstrate a good understanding of the cultural needs of children and families, with a focus on culturally competent practices. The local authority is committed to strengthening Welsh language proficiency among its workforce, providing a culturally inclusive approach to service delivery.


  • Culture of safeguarding in education:Schools and the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) are safe environments for pupils, with designated safeguarding persons (DSPs) playing a crucial role in identifying and addressing safeguarding concerns. The use of a digital platform for recording and reporting concerns has improved communication among schools, the PRU, and service providers.
  • Whole school approach to emotional and mental wellbeing:Cardiff schools and the PRU are focusing on emotional and mental health through initiatives like Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs), THRIVE, and well-being classes. The statutory school-based counselling service further supports vulnerable pupils, along with nurturing principles that build social skills, confidence, and self-esteem.
  • Challenges in early help services:Despite the positive efforts, the report identifies an imbalance in referrals between MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) and early help services, indicating a need for schools to better understand and utilise early intervention routes.
  • Innovation in partnership and prevention:The successful collaboration between education and other agencies, such as Team Around the School and Team Around the Cluster meetings, is noted for addressing vulnerable pupils' needs. These approaches have provided valuable support to pupils and families in response to social unrest and other community concerns.

Cllr Ash Lister, Cardiff's Cabinet Member for Children's Social Services said: "Safeguarding children and young people is a collective effort, and this report highlights the importance of multi-agency working between the Local Authority, schools, police, and health board.The reportrecognises the continued challenges being experienced across the UK and the rise in demand and complexity of cases. However, inspectors have found Cardiff Council to have a positive focus on safeguarding where our front-line staff, managers and leadership have a good understanding of the experiences of children and families that need help and protection.Practitioners understand their roles, information is shared efficiently, and children's voices are heard.

"Our staff work tirelessly to support babies, children and their families who receive our services despite the challenges they face across the sector, and we are grateful to all of them for all that they do.

"As the UK's first Child Friendly City, Cardiff continues to ensure children's rights are a part of our decisions and policy and weare committed to listening to children and their families, whilst working closely with our partners to improve multi-agency participation and initiatives to build communities where every child is safe, valued, and children are listened to."

Cardiff's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Sarah Merry added: "This report underscores Cardiff's commitment to support, safeguarding and continuous improvement in education and children's services and it reflects the significant work that has been carried out to establish a culture of safeguarding across the Local Authority, which is promoted as everyone's collective responsibility.

"The Council continues its commitmentto ensuring the safety and well-being of children and young people across the city and through collaborative efforts and innovative approaches, we will strive to provide effective safeguarding measures and support services to meet the diverse needs of our city's communities."

As with all inspections a number of areas were identified where partnership working could be further developed, a detailed action plan has been produced and will be monitored via the various partnership forums including the Regional Safeguarding Board and the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub Board.