THE county’s first Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub launched this week with an aim to protect the most vulnerable young people in Swindon.

The central resource, based at County Hall in Trowbridge, is the first point of contact for safeguarding concerns and inquiries relating to vulnerable children and is designed to build upon existing partnership work within Wiltshire.

It is the first time a multitude of Wiltshire agencies, including Wiltshire Council Children’s Social Care and Common Assessment Framework co-ordinators, Wiltshire Police and local community health services, will be based in the same location.

Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is about making quicker, better decisions about children’s safety, which will mean better outcomes for children’s lives.

“It will also improve our ability to protect children from all forms of abuse. This will be achieved through partnership working, sharing information and building trust.”

John Gilbert, Swindon Council’s board director of commissioning, said: “We already have a very strong relationship with our partner agencies and the MASH will build on our existing practices to ensure we continue to protect the most vulnerable children in Swindon.”

There are currently 45 people employed to work within MASH, sharing information to provide a more co-ordinated, timely and proportionate response to welfare and safeguarding concerns.

Wiltshire Police Detective Superinten-dent Caroline Evely said: “I believe the most important aspect of the MASH is the co-location of all partner agencies as this will allow us to respond to safeguarding concerns more efficiently and effectively.

“If the public have confidence in what we are doing with the information, I hope this will encourage people to come forward to us if they have concerns. They should be able to trust us managing the information in a sensitive, professional and secure way.”

Jacqui Chidgey-Clark, director of quality and patient safety at NHS Wiltshire Clincial Commissioning Group, said MASH was a welcome enhancement for the welfare and safety for vulnerable people in Wiltshire.

Coun Mayes added: “There is the possibility that we will include adult safe guarding in the future, but we want to make sure we get it right before expanding.”

Chief Constable Pat Geenty said: “This is the beginning of our journey and we want to make this a showpiece for the rest of the country.”