From next month multi-agency inspections of how services work together to protect children within local authority areas will focus on the quality of support for children living with domestic abuse.

The announcement by Ofsted will see the first six joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs), which began back in April, hone in on a “deep dive” focus on how areas deal with child sexual exploitation.

Ofsted has said that the next set of six inspections, which will be conducted jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation, will look in depth at how best to support children affected by domestic abuse.

They will also observe children who are living where there are incidents of domestic abuse, or where there is a risk of domestic abuse taking place. Guidance published today sets out how the inspections will work in practice.

Inspectors will attempt to log the effectiveness of interventions with domestic abuse victims and their  adult perpetrators, and the impact this has on the welfare and protection of children as a whole. In each area, the inspections will be expected to look in depth at individual children’s cases, as well as the bigger picture, focusing on particular points in time of the child’s experiences.

Ofsted’s national director for social care, Eleanor Schooling, said:

“Ofsted’s recent social care annual report highlighted some 320,000 children in need across England, many of whom live in families where domestic abuse is a constant feature. We know the devastating impact this can have on their immediate and future wellbeing.

“This is a very challenging area of work for professionals as they rightly focus on the protection of children, while balancing the rights and needs of victims.

The aim of the new approach is to take what the joint inspections find to Ofsted and develop partner inspectorates with valuable insight into how local areas are working together to help and protect these children.”

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the Care Quality Commission, said: “Early and robust intervention is critical in protecting those exposed to domestic abuse.

“These targeted inspections build on the strong foundations laid by our joint safeguarding work that is already underway with our partners. This aims to improve outcomes for extremely vulnerable children and young people.

“We hope that this programme will encourage a greater focus on children’s experiences and the hidden child.”

A thorough report on the findings from the first six JTAIs is due to be published this autumn.