Children’s minister announces wider social care brief for Martin Narey

Adoption tsar's wider role will help tackle key social care issues, like child sexual exploitation, which Timpson says needs a 'major rethink', and social work education

Government adviser Martin Narey (Pic: Matt Lloyd; Rex Features)

Martin Narey has been given a wider government role that will see him advising ministers on more aspects of children’s social care.

Previously ministerial adviser on adoption, Narey’s first job in his new role will be to look at the quality of education and training for children’s social workers.

The ex Barnardo’s chief’s strengthened role was announced on Wednesday by children’s minister Edward Timpson, who was speaking at an event organised by the Local Government Association to raise awareness about child sexual exploitation.

Timpson said he was “delighted” Martin Narey had accepted the role, adding that his “experience and expertise will make a significant contribution to progress in this area”.

‘Major rethink’ on attitudes to sexual exploitation

Key to this, Timpson said, should be a “major rethink” of our attitudes towards victims of child sexual exploitation and their families.

He continued: “Understanding that this manipulative and coercive abuse can happen to any family and that the children affected are to always be treated as victims means that this abuse is less likely to go undetected.

“Too often, agencies haven’t listened to them or believed their allegations, meaning more children being abused for longer. It is clearly outrageous and unacceptable for the young people affected not to be treated as victims. I’m absolutely determined that we should do all we can to change this.”

He set out progress on tackling child sexual exploitation over the last year, including recent training of more than 8,000 professionals, from health, social work, the police and other agencies and a recently re-issued step-by-step guide for frontline professionals on what to do if they suspect abuse.

Revised statutory guidance and new legal guidance

The Department for Education also plans to issue revised statutory guidance on children who go missing based on best local practice, while the Crown Prosecution Service will soon publish new legal guidance on prosecuting child sexual exploitation cases early.

This will include advice on information sharing and improved support for child victims, such as giving victims more choice about how they give evidence in court.

Meanwhile, in the next few months the government will pilot new ways of collecting data on children who go missing from home or care – a key risk factor for sexual exploitation. It follows a report by Ofsted that criticised councils for failing to keep accurate records of missing children.

“This will, for the first time, collect information on all children who go missing from their placement – not just those missing for 24 hours – enabling better analysis and more effective practice to prevent and combat the problem,” he said.

  • Community Care will be holding a major conference on responses to child sexual exploitation later this year. If you would like to help shape the programme please email penny.macoustra@rbi.co.uk

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