Devon County Council and OLM Systems are working together to develop MASH Protect, an application specifically designed to support the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) process. The solution has been designed to substantially reduce administration overheads, whilst also increasing the speed at which MASH enquiries are processed and data security.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs are a government backed approach that provide a central resource for receiving and processing safeguarding and child protection enquiries from all areas across a council.

Staffed with professionals from a range of agencies such as Police Protection Units, Social Care and Education under one roof, it enables the MASH team to access and share the protected information held by each agency on a child and their family in a secure environment. The MASH approach leads to a more complete assessment of risk and the triggering of interventions at the earliest opportunity in the most appropriate manner.

Devon County Council Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Children, Health and Wellbeing said: "The MASH was the first of its kind in the country and has been highlighted as an area of good practice. The approach used has enabled us to more effectively protect children at risk of significant harm as well as identify those requiring early help to prevent problems getting worse.

"Through approaches such as this, whilst never complacent, we are confident that the partnership of agencies within Devon will continue to protect those children at greatest risk and support the most vulnerable children in need."

MASH Protect, developed by Devon County Council and OLM Systems, is a multi-agency application that has been specifically designed to support the MASH process. Simon Holmes, MASH Operations Manager for Devon County Council said: "We were struggling to efficiently support the MASH process with the software already in place. Designing an application from scratch has meant that we can produce a truly multi-agency application and allow multiple agencies to simultaneously enter information into a single online form, keeping our process times to an absolute minimum".

Peter O' Hara, MD of OLM Systems said: "The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report recommended that councils look at new gatekeeping methods in children's social care and Devon County

Council's MASH was highlighted as an example. We are delighted to be working with Devon on this exciting project. As the MASH principle evolves as standard practice in councils across the  country, it will go a long way in resolving one of the key issues raised in almost every serious case review - lack of information sharing. We believe that our supporting technology has a critical role to play in the identification of vulnerable children and in the longer term, will identify the complex and troubled families of the future, enabling effective commissioning of preventative services."

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