Scottish councils vow to revamp procedures following child deaths

Two Scottish councils are planning an overhaul of their social work
departments following child abuse inquiries.

The moves at Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire Councils follow the
decision last month to radically restructure Glasgow social work
department in a bid to tackle its staff shortages (news, page 6, 6

In Edinburgh, a report on proposed changes was due to be considered
by the council’s executive this week, following the report into the
inquiry of the death of 11-week-old Caleb Ness, who was shaken to
death by his father. The report found that Caleb’s death had been
“avoidable”, and social work director Les McEwan later

The four main options for change are: maintaining the status quo,
making education and social work jointly responsible for children’s
services, creating a new department of education and children’s
services while retaining a social work department, and establishing
a new department of community services.

Council chief executive Tom Aitchison said it was “necessary” to
move away from the current practice arrangements. “Significant
change is needed to put children at the heart of our services,” he

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire’s housing and social work committee last
week accepted proposals for a radical overhaul of child protection
services following last year’s death of 13-month-old Carla Nicole
Bone, who was killed by her mother’s partner.

An independent inquiry into the death of Carla Nicole found that
the murder could not have been prevented by the agencies involved
with her care, but urged improvements in several areas including
the sharing of information.

A detailed action plan to address the shortcomings identified by
the inquiry will now be implemented, including a review of
assessment procedures and protocols used by the various agencies
involved in child protection. New working arrangements for
children’s services during evenings and weekends will also be

Chris Booth, Aberdeenshire’s head of social work (child care),
confirmed that the council had backed both the action plan and the
decision to ask the Scottish executive to fully fund the
recommendations of the child death review and the executive’s own
child protection programme.

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