The news that only a third of Welsh councils have implemented one
of the key recommendations of the Waterhouse report can only shock
anyone familiar with the north Wales child abuse scandal. Sir
Ronald Waterhouse himself is appalled to learn that councils are
still failing children.
In his report Waterhouse said the social services departments
involved in the scandal – Gwynedd and Clwyd – had “grossly
defective” complaints procedures. Yet, three years after the report
was published, most children in residential care in Wales do not
have a specialist complaints officer they can speak to in
Welsh children’s commissioner Peter Clarke, who revealed the local
authority failures to appoint complaints officers, describes them
as “worrying inadequacies”. We would go further and say it is
negligent for councils not to respond to such a crucial
Waterhouse is right when he says financial pressures are no excuse.
His report was called Lost in Care, and if we are to
prevent children being lost again we must give them someone to take
their concerns to.