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THE first part of this year has been “very busy” for the social care team protecting Ceredigion’s children and vulnerable adults.

A report detailing the quarter four safeguarding activity involving Ceredigion County Council staff and other agencies including the health board and police was noted by members of the overview and scrutiny coordinating committee this week.

Between January 1 and March 31, 2022, the CYSUR/CWMPAS Combined Local Operation Group recorded and increase in the number of referrals leading to child protection action with 154 strategy discussions/meetings being carried out.

The committee also heard on September 26 that there was an increase in the overall number of contact, reports or referrals relating to children in the same quarter, jumping from 897 in quarter three to 1010.

the number of children place on the protection register was 21 and a further 12 children were taken off the register.

Section 47 enquires – carried out to determine if safeguarding action is required – also increased to 65 this quarter, up from 40, and 64 were carried out jointly with the police, the report adds.

The main abuse risk was sexual abuse/exploitation with 29 referrals, followed by 22 for physical abuse, while the main risk factors for the 45 children on the protection register were domestic abuse, parental mental health, adult offence of violence and parental substance/alcohol misuse.

Corporate lead officer for Porth Cynnal and director for social services Sian Howys said that the “trend” was of increasing figures throughout the year and the department was “still of the view that we’re still seeing the impact of the covid and lockdown period on families.”

She added that the cost of living crisis was having a “huge increase in pressure on families” and the increases in demand “does place pressure on our staff,” with difficulties in retaining social care workforce to be noted.

“Safeguarding work is amongst the most difficult work for staff in social care,” added Ms Howys.

Councillors heard that staff had to “prioritise” work, with some areas not meeting set time scales but Ms Howys added “I can assure you they do prioritise the face to face activity.”

Adult safeguarding reports dropped in quarter four and the most reported category of abuse was emotional/physical abuse with 61 instances with a decrease in physical abuse reports to 48, compared to 59 in quarter three.

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