An obsolete register

The decision to scrap the child protection register after
children’s social care records go electronic is likely to
cause a stir. Certainly, when Community Care asked readers
their views, 70 per cent said the register should stay.

The government clearly thinks otherwise, though its consultation
exercise does ask whether a lead-in period would be useful. The
answer to that is almost certainly yes, but is the demise of the
register a good or a bad thing?

One argument for doing away with it is surely that the electronic
social care record will hold information on all children in contact
with social services, making the register practically obsolete. It
will be possible to identify groups of children at the touch of a
button – for example those for whom there are serious
concerns. In the past the register has all too often acted as a
barrier to children receiving help. As we saw with Victoria
Climbié, agencies dithered for weeks over whether she was a
child in need or a child at risk. The fact that Victoria was not on
the child protection register allowed her to drift into a terrible
situation. In her case – and in others – the register
distorted people’s perception of what their responsibilities

If the new system works and can avoid similar pitfalls it should
prove a better alternative.

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