Behind headlines

It was the year when health secretary Alan Milburn heralded the
end of the “old, monolithic social services departments”, the year
that the fledgling National Care Standards Commission heard that
the end was nigh only days after its birth, and the year that the
Adoption and Children Bill finally became law, including its
proposal to allow same sex couples to adopt. Phase one of the
Victoria Climbi’ inquiry ended in turmoil because some witnesses
failed to produce evidence on time. The Criminal Records Bureau
came shortly afterwards, even if eight months behind schedule, and
promptly attracted an avalanche of criticism for its sluggish
vetting procedures which deepened the recruitment crisis across
social care.

Chancellor Gordon Brown gave social services a 6 per cent annual
rise in funding while Milburn promised fines for delayed
discharges. In July Brown was back for the comprehensive spending
review with another £1.5bn and a new, wider remit for Sure

There was also the promise of children’s trusts.   

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth
High: “The best news of the year is the judgement to
extend the Children Act 1989 to young people in prison.”

Low: “That the minister for children and young people can still
defend smacking and uphold the archaic ‘reasonable chastisement’
defence, despite recommendations under international law for
abolition, is particularly disappointing.”

Karen Squillino, senior practitioner, Barnardo’s
High: “Barnardo’s winning advertising awards for the abuse
through prostitution campaign. This campaign has been significant
in helping to raise people’s awareness of this issue and the
hard-hitting advertisements have well and truly served their

Low: “The changes to sex offender legislation. Issues relating to
young people who commit sexual crimes have not been addressed in
the proposed changes. People who commit sexual offences are not a
homogeneous group and consideration should be given to the issues
raised when a young person is placed on the sex offenders’

Phil Frampton, national chairperson, Care Leavers
High: “In January, health minister Jacqui Smith declared
that childhood victims of abuse in care should be compensated by
the government and that there should be an apology.”

Low: “Nothing happened.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the
High: “There is generally much more recognition of issues
relating to older people. Pensions and the provision of appropriate
care are much more on the agenda. There are problems about
long-term care and ageism in health care, solutions to which will
require a major shift in emphasis by the government and more
resources put into services beyond the £1bn shot in the arm
that was announced earlier this year. Planning cycles of 25 to 30
years are needed rather than three to five years as at

Low: “The government’s retreat on care standards in care homes –
they are now recommended as good practice rather than mandatory –
which does not bode well for the future.”

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and
High: “After two false starts in 1996 and in 2000 – both
delays were down to interruptions caused by General Election
campaigns, adoption law was finally modernised with some very
significant changes. These included greater support for all
involved in adoption, information for birth families in relation to
past adoptions and opening up adoption to a wider range of

Low:”The lack of government action on the shameful UN Report on the
UK’s children’s rights record – it criticised the UK for its
failure to ban smacking, urged it to appoint a children’s
commissioner, and questioned its record on upholding the welfare of
children in custody and seeking asylum.”

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