What is MASH?
MASH stands for multi-agency safeguarding hub which seeks to enable the sharing of information so risks to children can be identified at an early stage.
It is a link between universal services such as schools and GPs and statutory services such as police and social care.
If you have a concern about a child, please call MASH on 0345 050 7666.
The scheme started in Devon in 2010 and has been repeated in Haringey, Norfolk, Birmingham and Nottingham.
The Oxfordshire project is seeking to build upon best practice elsewhere in the country.
The Oxfordshire project started in early 2013. The work has been led by a multi-agency steering group which is chaired by the Assistant Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police.
It also includes representatives from:
- Adult and Children's Social Care
- Thames Valley Police
- National Probation Service
- Oxford Health
- Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
The overwhelming majority of serious case reviews over the past four decades document poor interagency communication, failed handover arrangements and tardiness of actions, as key contributing factors to tragic outcomes.
The hub is designed to overcome these factors by working to shared objectives and using pooled resources.
Expected outcomes include:
- more robust decision-making among professionals based on sufficient, accurate and timely intelligence
- less duplication of processes across agencies
- an increase in the uptake of early help assessments
- a reduction in repeat referrals and cases requiring no further action
- better information sharing across partners
- improved engagement of health partners
- improved knowledge management
- reduction in the risk of borderline cases slipping through the net.
Who works in the MASH?
The hub includes staff from children’s social care, Thames Valley Police, Oxford Health, Oxford University Hospitals and Drug Alcohol Services and Oxford District Council.
Other agencies set up to share information include South Central Ambulance Service, Youth Offending Service and Probation.
How will safeguarding concerns be covered?
The MASH team receives all new child safeguarding concerns in Oxfordshire which meet current thresholds.
Once a concern is reported, the MASH team will assess whether or not it meets the threshold for children’s social care involvement.
Those that may meet the threshold will be passed to partners from a wide range of agencies, who will collate partnership information swiftly, allowing better informed decisions to be made.
As a result, the MASH team will be able to act quickly, in a more co-ordinated and consistent way, ensuring that vulnerable children are kept safe.
Those concerns that don’t meet the threshold will be signposted to specific early help services, ensuring they receive appropriate support.
MASH outputs for children include referrals to community / specialist services and referrals to children’s social care assessment and disability teams for a single assessment and/or strategy meeting.
Who will screen calls?
Calls to the MASH will be screened by Oxfordshire County Council's Customer Services Centre which will provide a single front door to children’s and adult’s services.
Calls on open cases and general enquiries will be diverted to the appropriate team involved.
Calls that are forwarded to the MASH will be assessed by social care staff, who will make recommendations for next steps.
Information for professionals
Contact the MASH by using the MASH Enquiry Online Referral Form.
Making an online MASH enquiry
The form should only be used by professionals to make new MASH enquiries. Please note that if your MASH enquiry is regarding an urgent concern, please back your enquiry up with a phone call to make the MASH team aware on: 0345 050 7666.
Before making a MASH enquiry
Before reporting a safeguarding concern you need to consider if the child or young person’s needs can be met by services from within your own agency, or by other professionals already involved with the family. You can contact the locality and community support service to explore emerging concerns further. The LCSS can offer support regarding the Early Help Assessment or Team Around the Family processes and can identify and signpost to appropriate support.
We know that it is sometimes difficult to decide the appropriate point of intervention. To help you to determine levels of need when making your own assessment we have developed the Oxford Threshold of Needs Matrix.
Before referring to Children’s Social Care you should always inform the parents or carers, except where a child is considered to be at risk of harm and you believe that informing parents may increase this risk. Download the MASH leaflet for parents and carers (pdf format, 154Kb). The leaflet advises parents of the purpose of the MASH, how and why multi-agency information is shared and how they can request a copy of their child’s MASH safeguarding concern. A copy of the leaflet should be given to parents prior to submitting a children’s safeguarding concern to the MASH, unless by doing so would put a child or adult at risk of harm.
If you are unsure about thresholds or seeking consent seek advice from your line manager.
Securely emailing the MASH team
Email correspondence (not MASH Enquiries) can be sent to the secure MASH email address - firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, if your email includes confidential client data of any kind, you will need to ensure that you are also sending from a secure PSN email account or by using the Egress Switch system. If you are in doubt as to the security level of your own email, please speak to your IT department.
How calls will be dealt with
- New safeguarding calls will be directed to Oxfordshire County Council’s Customer Service Centre, who will signpost the correct calls to the MASH.
- Any calls deemed inappropriate to transfer to the MASH will be directed to the relevant service.
- In the MASH, a new dynamic process of risk assessing cases will be in operation. This means that the MASH will make an immediate response for the most urgent cases. For cases assessed as having lower level concerns, it may take up to three working days, to make an informed decision as to the most appropriate service required.