Police to be replaced by civilian staff at St Helens safeguarding hub

St Helens town hall
St Helens town hall
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A safeguarding hub in St Helens will see police offers replaced with civilians as part of a regional restructure.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) provide a single point of access for all safeguarding concerns in that particular locality.

The MASH is St Helens is based in Atlas House in the town centre and brings all the agencies involved in safeguarding children together under one roof.

In Merseyside, all the MASH service has come under review due to “efficiencies and effectiveness”, according to Superintendent Louise Harrison, the area commander for St Helens.

On Tuesday, Supt Harrison updated St Helens Council’s safer communities overview and scrutiny panel on the outcome of a review of the MASH service.

She said a number of changes have been made across the various Merseyside hubs.

Supt Harrison said the review highlighted there was a “lack of consistency” across the hubs, in that work was not as joined up as it should be.

Under the new model, police officers will be taken out of some roles and replaced with “experienced support staff”, many of whom are former police officers or have worked in a relevant field, she said.

Some administrative will also be centralised.

Supt Harrison assured the panel the safeguarding teams will strengthen as a result of the changes.

“One of the main differences that has occurred across the MASHs across the force is that we have taken operational police officers out of some of those roles and replaced them with experienced support staff,” Supt Harrison said.

“I think that did raise some concerns with members, not just in St Helens but across the force.

“But you would expect the vast majority of staff that are going into those MASHs are actually ex MASH staff, their ex police officers or they are experienced members of the team who have worked in child protection for many, many years.

“I think one of the things we were fairly confident about was actually the experience and the understanding and the skills were actually being improved within those teams, rather than depleted in any way.”

Supt Harrison said the new model has been in place for around two weeks.

Merseyside Police is currently recruiting staff, she said, and a phased approach will be taken in regard to the change-over of staff.

Supt Harrison said there will be a “period of embedding” and assured members the changes have not had any “detrimental effects” to the safeguarding teams so far.