Tower Hamlets turns to IT to stop child abuse families slipping through net

Computers are being used for child protection [PA picture]

Computers are being used for child protection [PA picture] - Credit: Archant

Vital gaps in child protection in London’s East End are being plugged by a new computer system to alert social workers if a youngster with a Protection Order suddenly turns up at A&E with suspicious injuries or signs of neglect.

Tower Hamlets Council is among the first local authorities in the country to start using an IT network linked to the NHS giving the safeguarding alerts.

It means parents subject to Child Protection orders can no longer slip below the radar by going outside east London, as most of the NHS is being hooked up nationwide. Most local authorities are expected to be linked by April.

“We support anything that reduces the chances of a child slipping through the net,” the council’s children’s services cabinet member Gulam Robbani said.

“Sharing information in a way that keeps people’s private data safe means the most vulnerable children can be better protected.”

Non-clinical information about youngsters on a Child Protection plan or pregnant woman whose unborn child has a pre-birth Protection Plan are being shared between local authorities and the NHS.

Social workers will be notified automatically if a child covered by an order is taken to hospital, out-of-hours GP or walk-in centre.

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Doctors or nurses suspicious about the child’s injuries or condition can use the system to alert the social worker, who up till now would not necessarily know if a youngster on their register had been medically treated.

A safeguarding ‘hub’ to protect East End youngsters at risk was set up in February between the Met Police and the council to make “better decisions when responding to risk” for vulnerable children. Police meet regularly with senior council officials from health, education and housing as well as probation and mental health services and Bart’s Trust which runs the Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel.