Joined-up thinking from protection agencies

A LONG-AWAITED project will, for the first time in the Borders, now see specialist workers from all the various agencies involved in adult and child protection housed under one roof to help provide an enhanced approach to protecting those most at risk in our society.

Staff from Lothian and Borders Police, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and NHS Borders have been brought together in the multi-agency task force to aid the protection of adults, children and young people at risk of harm.

Based at the Easter Langlee Centre in Marigold Drive, Galashiels, the newly-located team will see specialist workers from SBC’s social work and education departments working alongside colleagues from NHS Borders and the police. In addition, the accommodation provides improved facilities for staff needing to interview clients and provide training.

SBC director of social work Andrew Lowe says protecting people at risk from harm is a complex activity that relies on good and effective communication.

“These new premises in Langlee will provide a great asset and will greatly support agencies in working together,” Mr Lowe told TheSouthern this week.

“For the last five or six years there has been a central oversight group comprising the chief executives of Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders, together with local directors of social work and education, plus the chief superintendent from the police.

“They have worked at the very top level to identify issues in child and adult protection. But it has been a long-held desire to bring together specialists from all these different agencies onto one campus and ensure increased effective communication,” he told us.

Although police and social work staff have been brought together in a facility for child protection at Galashiels and at Selkirk for adult protection, Mr Lowe says the facilities used have not been ideal.

He added: “Up until now the facilities we had for this type of work have been cramped and did not allow the bringing in of additional staff. So we wanted to bring all that together if we ever got a good opportunity.”

Recent inspections of social work services have praised the quality of work going on in the fields of child and adult protection in the Borders, but Mr Lowe says his aim and that of his staff is always to strive to improve.

He told us: “People think abuse of children and adults is not as much a problem in a rural area like the Borders as it is in the bigger cities. But we have more than 100 children under active consideration in the Borders at the moment.

“Abuse of children and adults is a problem right across the world and that is why we are vigilant about reviewing our services.”

For the police’s part, T/DCI Grant Dougall says the new unit at Langlee will further enhance the efficient and effective way the police deliver services to keep children, young people and adults at risk safe. “The integration of these services will ensure our activity is informed by a systematic analysis of risk and targeted where it is needed most,” he said.

z If you are concerned about an adult please contact the SBC customer services helpline on 0300 100 1800 and select option four.

If your concern relates to a child or young person, you should phone your local Integrated Children’s Service office: Berwickshire 01361 886115, Eildon 01896 661880, Tweeddale 01896 833489, Cheviot 01573 223501, Teviot and Liddesale 01450 364777. In an emergency and out of office hours, telephone 01896 752111.

You can also contact Lothian and Borders Police on 01896 664587 or the charity Crimestoppers, in confidence and complete anonymity, on 0800 555 111.