Clash at meeting as Adult Board scrutinised

The man in charge of adult safety in Leeds has defended his record at a local council meeting

By Joe Cook and Harry Graham

The head of the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board, Richard Jones, came in for criticism as local councillors believed the Board’s annual report was “short on facts, figures and data.”

But Mr Jones said that “one or two [councillors] don’t understand what the board is”.

The Safeguarding Adults Board is there to give safeguarding victims someone to talk to, boost awareness of safeguarding for all Leeds communities, improve responses to abuse domestically and use previous experiences to help improve their work.

Having become a statutory body in 2015 in accordance with the requirements of the Care Act 2014, Councillor Billy Flynn says the board has seen “7,000 cases under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014, but there were no safeguarding reviews.”

The Care Act 2014 (Section 42) requires that each local authority must make enquiries, or cause others to do so if it believes an adult is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect.

Jones responded to that statement by explaining that “you’d be writing papers and reports, covering hundreds and hundreds of papers and you’d still miss the issue.”

Richard Jones, the Independent Chair of Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board, defended his report at the Civic Hall

Richard Jones, the Independent Chair of Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board, defended his report at the Civic Hall

According to the Report to Scrutiny Board (Adult, Health and Active Lifestyles), the aim is to make sure that Leeds is ‘a safe place for everyone’, but local councillors still believe this criteria is not being met.

Councillor Denise Ragan said: “Vulnerable adults don’t have a social worker, they are still in a very very vulnerable situation.”

“You work with all amounts of organisations to deal with their need and their health but there’s nowhere in this report that says how you’re going to harness those organisations to make them work towards your ambitions,” Ragan added.

In response, Jones said: “We are seeking to talk to people who have been through safeguarding processes to hear what didn’t go well and what can be done better.”

‘Incredibly overstretched’

Councillor James Gibson took a different view to others, explaining that there are other factors to the matter such as an “incredibly overstretched” police force and believes it’s not all that bad for Safeguarding Adults in Leeds.

“Leeds are very good at safeguarding vulnerable people… we’re not getting regular updates from the police on where they are with criminal prosecution or whether they’re taking action. It is, however, an adult social care responsibility.”

Although Jones came in for heavy criticism, it was clear that the councillors didn’t fully grasp the role in which the board holds with regards to what they can actually do. Due to legislation restrictions, Mr Jones explained that they are very limited to what they can physically do.

“The challenge is to work in a way that really starts to maximise the opportunity for people to get the best possible care,” Mr Jones said.

‘Over-worked and under-resourced’

Councillor Sandy Lay questioned whether the main problem for Jones is that his board is “over-worked and under-resourced” after he failed to provide the Scrutiny Board with the information or data that they required.

“Is your board over-worked and under-resourced? Because I wonder whether that’s the nub of all of this,” asked Cllr Lay.

Mr Jones dismissed this, instead taking a more optimistic view.

“It depends what you mean by that being at the nub of all of this because I think I don’t share your view of what is being achieved. What we have recognised is that we do need more data that drives intelligence.”

Despite not seeing eye to eye with everything that the councillors said, Jones stayed strong in his views but agreed that more data and information needs to be shown by the time the next Scrutiny Board comes around.


About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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