On Thursday 29 January 2015, Greg Hall arrived on the Island to serve as Director of the new Safeguarding Directorate, established on 1 December 2014. The Safeguarding Directorate assumed social services and safeguarding functions, from Health and Social Services, with the remit to protect and safeguard vulnerable children, young people and adults at risk or suffering from abuse.
A key part of Greg’s role is to ensure that the services offered by the Directorate are ‘joined up’ with key agencies – the Police, Judiciary, Health and Mental Health Services, Education, Prison, Probation and with various Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). An improved assessment service, benefitting from better collaboration between statutory agencies, is already bringing about increased confidence in safeguarding services on the Island with a corresponding rise in referrals. The Directorate is working hard to address these new referrals as well as a number of historical cases.
“As well as building on recent improvements to safeguarding interventions, we will also be working on developing support and assistance for people who might be vulnerable to or are recovering from abuse. For people who feel vulnerable it can be difficult to talk about personal issues or raise concerns. Our staff understand this and are committed to listening and giving options, and we will continue to develop avenues for support. Early intervention and follow up support are two key parts of safeguarding which will be a focus as the new directorate moves forward over the next two years.”
Safeguarding on St Helena is rightly a high priority for St Helena Government. The establishment of the new Directorate is just one of many steps taken to ensuring that the right support, leadership and service delivery is available for the more vulnerable members in society. The successful recruitment of experienced officers to key posts in the Safeguarding Directorate and in the Police Service has greatly improved the capacity of government to protect individuals. For example, an experienced Child Protection & Sexual Offence Detective now works exclusively on allegations of sexual offences and child abuse. Elsewhere, work continues to develop Child Protection Policies and an ongoing training and development programme for Social Care Officers. More expert resources are also being applied to the management of offenders through the excellent work of the Probation Service, now supported by two recently arrived Public Protection Officers.
The Safeguarding Children’s Board which has membership of all key agencies, the Children’s Champion and NGOs oversees all safeguarding matters in respect of children and young people on the Island. This includes coordinated training for those working with children and young people as well as strategic leadership and the implementation of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation recommendations.
To provide better support for victims of abuse more funds are being sourced for resources that will include the recruitment of two additional Social Workers, the establishment of an additional Family Centre, further training opportunities, a Victim Support Service, and more staff for the Island’s Mental Health Services.
Chief Secretary, Roy Burke, commented:
“We are committed to addressing all safeguarding concerns both new and historical and I would urge anyone with a concern to contact the relevant authorities where their concern will be investigated fully with complete confidentiality.”
Assistant Chief Secretary, Paul McGinnety, concluded:
“Greg Hall is a professional who brings extensive and valuable experience to lead the new Safeguarding Directorate. He will further strengthen and consolidate the significant improvements in safeguarding arrangements on the Island already achieved through improved multi-agency working arrangements, improved processes, training and the recruitment of key professionals.”
Both DFID and FCO have supported SHG in taking these initiatives forward by providing the support for specialist posts, training, advice and equipment.
3 February 2015