Lead responsibility for child protection services should lay
with a local authority chief executive or a councillor, according
to the leader of the Local Government Association,
writes Nicola Barry.
LGA chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham said: “Lead responsibility
should be given to one of three people. The chief executive, the
leader of the council, the council cabinet member with the relevant
“There should also be a member of the police with responsibility
for looking at the police service, a health service person looking
at health,” he told an NSPCC fringe meeting at Labour’s spring
conference in Glasgow.
Sir Jeremy said he and chief secretary to the treasury Paul
Boating had previously been involved with leaders and chief
executives from a total of 18 local authorities deemed to be
“One large Labour authority didn’t even attend the meeting
we set up,” he said. “Also, it struck me how little the chief
executives knew about what was going on in their departments.”
Sir Jeremy said we should stop looking at child protection as a
problem affecting particular children at risk. “We have to look at
services for children as a whole, ensuring the family is given
adequate support thus minimising risk to the child from the word
Health minister Jacqui Smith told the meeting that “under-fire,
under-pressure frontline staff” would no longer have to bear the
brunt of child protection on their own.
Smith believes Laming had rightly described as “breathtaking”
the unwillingness of “some of the most senior people in the
agencies, which worked with Victoria” to accept they were in any
She said accountability had been the catalyst for all
Laming’s recommendations for structural change.
She said all chief executives had already been asked to ensure
the basic elements of good practice referred to in the Laming
report were in place within three months.