Guest post: Safety by removing safety measures?

Photo: Cosmic_Spanner

This is a guest post from Safeguarding 2.0 board member Johnnie Moore

Sitting in on Safeguarding 2.0 meetings, I’m struck by how those involved in safeguarding seem overburdened with reporting systems.  This is the impact of well-intentioned but time-consuming procedures introduced in the wake of past failings.  A lot of time appears to be spent in meetings with the aim of improving co-operation between agencies, yet there’s not much evidence to show that this is producing results and many in the system complain of wasting time.

I was interested to read this in Lord Laming’s latest effort: “However, good examples of joint working too often rely on the goodwill of individuals.”  Spoken like a true bureaucrat.  It’s as if goodwill is some optional extra in a system of human care.  A tiresome bias in the game of inventing the perfect system for human control.  I suspect that goodwill is the most important thing keeping the system going, and those in power should be focussing rather more on what will increase it.

It makes me wonder what Hans Monderman would suggest.  Monderman is the Dutch traffic planner who pioneered the notion of shared space for traffic management.  He found that you could improve road safety in many contexts by removing a great many of the signs and paraphenalia normally associated with road safety. It seems that without traditional safeguards, human beings become more aware of their and others’ vulnerabilities and operate more safely. Would social care improve if some of the Lamingesque procedures were removed?

I also wonder what other organisations have wrestled more successfully than ours with delivering safety and care by finding effective rules and regs but also giving people the discretion and time to do satisfying and innovative work?  Could they have some insights to share?

4 Comments

  • Johnny – Great post – you make some very insightful points.

    Having worked in a Youth Offending Team for several weeks, my own experiences would very much agree with your concerns about goodwill. The fact that we have a ‘system’ very much distracts the focus from the contact points of genuine care – one person’s determination to ensure the wellbeing of another.

  • There’s no “like” button so a smiley will have to do :-)

    I would also add on the reporting front that Ofsted are now saying that Serious Case Reviews cost a lot of money (because of the large number of stakeholders) yet there is little evidence of any learning from them. The only surprise here is that some people are surprised by that.

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  • Having worked in a Youth Offending Team for several weeks, my own experiences would very much agree with your concerns about goodwill. The fact that we have a ’system’ very much distracts the focus from the contact points of genuine care – one person’s determination to ensure the wellbeing of another.
    +1

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