Child protection register scrapped in favour of electronic care records

Child protection registers will be scrapped by April 2008, according to revised government guidance on safeguarding children.

A record of children who are the subject of child protection plans will instead be contained in electronic social care files, under the Integrated Children’s System.

And agencies will have to contact key workers directly to discuss concerns about individual children, according to the updated Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance published last week.

Lord Laming’s report in 2003 into the death of Victoria Climbi called for child protection registers to be replaced.

And last year, when the government revealed its intention to scrap the registers, he said they had become a “crutch” for some professionals who would only respond if a child had a protection label attached to them.

Andrew Webb, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services children and families committee, said he was also in favour of replacing the registers with a “more active case management approach”.

He added: “The evidence on whether registers prevent further harm is mixed. There’s a view that they give people a false sense of security and the number of checks on them don’t indicate they are being checked on a regular basis.”

The revised guidance also states that staff should use their discretion about whether to inform the police and social services of cases where a child under 13 is sexually active.

NSPCC policy adviser Lucy Thorpe said this went against the London Child Protection Committee’s interim protocol for professionals working with sexually active young people, which required the mandatory reporting of cases involving under-13s.

But committee member Ian Angus, a Metropolitan Police detective inspector, said the protocol only required reporting in cases where penetrative sex had taken place.

He said this was in line with the guidance because in his view it only allowed professionals to exercise discretion in cases involving lower levels of sexual activity.

Webb said that while the ADSS understood the arguments against mandatory reporting, “on balance” it felt it should be required.

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