THURROCK COUNCIL is leading the way in protecting children from harm and abuse, through an innovative single “hub” where all the various agencies are based.

The Thurrock Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) has now started work in its new home in the Civic Offices, New Road, Grays.

Carmel Littleton, Thurrock Council’s director of children’s services, said: “This is such a brilliant and sensible idea. It means staff from many different organisations can share information in real time; in minutes instead of hours and days.

“We’re dealing with children at risk of harm and in those circumstances seconds, let alone minutes and hours can be vital.

“Obviously all the various agencies have had processes in place to make sure they all talked together quickly, but now they’re all physically in the same room, speeding up the process even more.

“This is something all the agencies and organisations, and the borough itself should be proud of.”

Over the past few weeks, workers from a wide range of organisations move into the new office.

The organisations include: Thurrock Council’s children’s social care, adult social care, youth offending service, housing department, early help services; plus health agencies, Essex Police; the probation service; mental health services; domestic violence prevention providers; and substance misuse services.

Det Chief Insp, Tom Simons ,of Essex Police added: “Having the full picture of the risk that children and vulnerable teenagers face greatly improves our ability to protect them.

“The MASH will enhance information-sharing across all the organisations involved in safeguarding in Thurrock.

“We will have police officers sitting alongside our partners’ representatives to allow for the real-time sharing of information held by the different agencies to allow us to make immediate assessments.

“This will allow us to build up a much better picture of what is happening to children involved in referrals and then take the appropriate steps to help protect them. If all goes to plan then we also hope to include adult safeguarding in this scheme within the next few months.”