MASH - aiming to help vulnerable children

Protecting vulnerable children is at the forefront of a new collaboration between the police and children’s social care in West Sussex which will see them working together in one office for the first time.

The new West Sussex MASH - Multi Agency Service Safeguarding Hub - is based at County Hall North in Horsham and comprises 16 members of police staff from the divisional Child Protection Team who will work alongside staff from West Sussex County Council’s Children’s Access Point (CAP).

The new co-location will improve communication between the two organisations, which are committed to safeguarding children, ensuring the best possible service is provided at the earliest opportunity to abused and vulnerable children.

Inspector David Derrick, from Sussex Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Branch, said: “From the public’s point of view this will be business as usual and they will see very little difference in how we operate. However, working together in one office means there will be better communication between the police and social care and this can only improve the service which we give to victims.

“The new MASH means the right people are in the right place at the right time and can share information from the offset. It is the statutory obligation of both organisations to safeguard children and the MASH puts us in an even better position to do this.

“Working in the same location means that all the services have better ways of sharing information so that it’s easier to assess risk to victims and reduce the chances of harm. The aim for both the police andCAPis to ensure that communication is right from the very beginning and MASH enables us to do that.”

Peter Evans, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, added: “Anything we can do to reduce the risk of harm to vulnerable young people is a key priority and by sharing sites with our colleagues from Sussex Police, and ultimately the NHS, we will be in a better position to do this.”

Colleagues from the Sussex Community NHS Trust Specialist Safeguarding Children’s Nurse Team are also due to move in the near future.