Child protection procedures are often invoked to overcome problems in interagency working rather than where children are at risk of significant harm, a leading children’s services director said.
Andrew Webb, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services children and families committee, said problems in areas such as information sharing needed to be overcome rather than fudged. Quoting research from Lancaster University, he said: “Two-thirds of child protection referrals don’t have evidence of significant abuse or harm. If we use the label [child protection] to trigger resources or to get round information-sharing then we are getting it wrong.”
Webb called for professionals to be more open with each other, critically citing cases from Stockport – where he is children’s services director – of primary school teachers being asked for information by child mental health practitioners without being told why.
The session, on information sharing in child protection, also heard a warning from Gill Earl, nurse consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, that the recent reorganisation of primary care trusts had led to the loss of a number of chief executiveswho were child protection leads.