NSPCC calls for tougher laws to deal with those who fail children following Rotherham scandal

The charity's helpline chief has told Community Care that when evidence of serious poor practice is discovered, those responsible should “lose their job”

Photo: ID.8 Photography/REX

The NSPCC has called for more robust laws to deal with professionals who deliberately fail to protect children in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

John Cameron, head of the child protection charity’s helpline, said: “When people who have authority to act deliberately fail to act, then we need to think more about the consequences of those, whether or not there should be criminal action should be taken against those individuals. We cannot tolerate any longer either a management culture or a practice culture that results in a failure to protect children at risk.”

Cameron was speaking in reaction to the revelations in the Rotherham child sexual exploitation inquiry, which found that some of those in charge of child protection in the town were disbelieving, suppressing or ignoring evidence of widespread abuse of children.

Speaking about what the disciplinary response should be, Cameron stated: “There are people around now, whether they be in Rotherham or elsewhere, if they are responsible for poor practice then they shouldn’t be around practicing child protection or managing child protection services.”

Cameron also told Community Care that when evidence of serious poor practice is discovered, those responsible have to stop practicing, “they lose their job it’s as simple as that”.

“You’ve got to have good practitioners, good managers in organisations that can drive quality practice and protect children at risk of harm whether you’re in children’s services or whether you’re in the police or whether you’re in any agency related to child protection,” he said. “If people fail in their responsibility to deliver good practice and safe practice then they have to be accountable.”

Cameron’s comments follow news that the HCPC is making inquiries about whether fitness to practice hearings need to take place with social workers who worked in Rotherham during the time covered by the inquiry.

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13 Responses to NSPCC calls for tougher laws to deal with those who fail children following Rotherham scandal

  1. GC August 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I am appalled at this statement from the NSPCC. Anyone working in Child protection Services in the UK knows the system is flawed. Recommendations from enquiries, eg; Laming have not been implemented because of the financial cost; the inspection regime does not address the structural faults, the infrastructure and funding for staffing is simply not in place to provide an effective service in which Social Workers have manageable safe caseloads. Senior managers and directors are not vocal about this. The NSPCC would be better placed scrutinising government policy and practice and asking challenging questions about how safeguarding of children can and should be delivered; why vulnerable children and families and statutory workforce are so devalued and such an easy target fro blame; what leads to a culture of suppression and not managing risk. Maybe it is time for political accountability and for regulatory bodies, professional representatives and charitable bodies representing safeguarding to stand up for the staff who take the brunt of everyone’s criticism and blame and for the children themselves to be served with a service that is workable.

  2. Tony Weatherby August 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Trust the NSPCC to put in their two penn’orth. Where were they in Rotherham, Rochdale? And what service did they offer in Haringey? Their work in research is excellent but in all other respects they have become rent a gob. “Together we will make it stop” bulls**t. A neat phrase to draw in funds.

  3. Concerned Foster Mother August 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    I am absolutely disgusted at what has happened at Rotherham! How can it go to the level where 1400 young people were abused without people in positions of responsibility not taking action? Why were social workers who raised concerns not taking it further when ignored? Is there a culture of bullying by management that intimates social workers into remaining silent when their concerns are overlooked? As social workers we are meant to advocate on behalf of young people. Foster carers often get side-lined with their concerns and need to also consider, in the light of this incident, about how they will act if ignored when reporting incidents. We need to act as advocates for the young people in our care and if the concerns are ignored, we need to consider whether we are not colluding with the system by not fighting back for our young people. Personally I have had to fight to be heard and have lodged complaints even to the Head of Children’s Services warning them if anything happens to a young person in my care, after I have raised serious concerns, I will hold them personally responsible. It didn’t make me friends but got the required result!

  4. mike wood August 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Have the NSPCC had any involvement in this dreadful matter? As it relates to a period of 14 years you would have thought one or more of the victims or their family members would have contacted them. If so, what did they do? If not, why has all their publicity come to nothing. I agree wholeheartedly with the first comment; it is so easy to stand on the sidelines and criticise people doing a really hard job in the face of lack of resources, support etc

  5. Lynne Brosnan August 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    These children and parents were ignored by the very people that should have been acting on their behalf. To say that these predators have got away with this abuse because the powers that be were afraid of being stamped as racist just beggars belief. Nobody whoever they are should be free to abuse children and young people. To class families as dysfunctional is a cope out and a disgrace quite frankly, in my opinion. Dysfunctional is a horrible term and used far to frequently. There shouldn’t now be a witch hunt as what usually happens. Those that are guilty should be made answer as they have committed these crimes just as surely as the perpetrators.

  6. TH August 30, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    I think that it is important to give a clear message to any individual that poor practice will not be tolerated. And rightly so anyone placing children at risk should be dismissed. They are the real enemies of social work. Well done for speaking out.

  7. Roger Long August 30, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Failure to act in public office is a major issue facing local authorities and impacts significantly on public confidence. NSPCC is right in saying that this is not a frontline practice issue but more a middle senior management and political cultural matter needing urgent addressing. The sooner police and children’s services listen to children the better.

  8. DF August 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    Just heard john cameron on BBC Shefield. He was very right in highlighting chnages have taken place and social work and the police and as such people must report abuse. There is no place for poor practitioners. It makes my work far more difficult working with ineffective managers.

  9. JL August 31, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Bitterly disappointed by this reaction and would expect better from NSPCC. A stark contrast to the intelligent and constructive responses of Eileen Munro, who is so highly respected in this field. I fully endorse the sentiments of GC (above) No-one would deny that children deserve the best professional practices and I would be surprised to know that anyone believes the approach advocated here, by NSPCC, makes any real contribution to the achievement of this aspiration. Would it be your intention to encourage criminal proceedings against your own staff in such circumstances? I hope you have had better ways of dealing with such issues.

  10. Andrew September 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    When it appears that so many who actually committed these horrible crimes have gone without punishment I do not see the logic in using important court and Police time prosecuting those who are trying to keep children safe.

    Those working in safeguarding roles often work under serious levels of pressure trying to safeguard children and I do not see any evidence that Mr John Cameron understands this.

    The word ‘deliberate’ has no place in this sentance as he does not define what he means, if you fail to make a call because you have 100 others, is that deliberately failing? or perhaps not recording a conversation because you have 30 additional cases?

    Mr John Cameron please read the munro review, then you would realise you are doing more harm than good with comments like this!

  11. Lorraine Dixson September 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Until Whistle Blowers are offer more protection nothing will change and bad practice will not be highlighted. People who whistle blow are still persecuted.

  12. JAB September 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I am no fan of the nspcc but there is a need to honest at times, and lets face it they are on this occasion. We would not tolerate poor performance in othe rprofessions such as medicine and teaching so why can’t we face up to the relative that in SW there are those who we all know are best doing something else. We need to invest in social work to attract the best.

  13. Ezzie September 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    “they lose their job it’s as simple as that” ????!!! I am disgusted by this statement and by all who think that working in ‘The System’ is so flawless as to continue to fuel the blame culture. If you want to blame anyone, blame the successive governments and politicians who continue to cut budgets so that LA’s are unable to implement the changes recommended by countless reports into SCR’s. I have been in SW for a number of years and have seen practice at its worst and best. At best, you can make a real and lasting positive change to a child’s life and at worst, I have seen stressed out social workers crumble under the sheer volume of work they are expected to do. Never mind the endless paperwork, ever changing computer systems, managers and colleagues who go off sick or move to another position simply to end the stress. The stress that stops only for a couple of weeks until your new case load creates the same pressures. Don’t give me “they lose their job it’s as simple as that” It isn’t!!! As simple of that should be why the government continually undermines our delicate and precious work. I do not know a single SW who has ever DELIBERATELY enabled a child to suffer because of bad practice. I have no doubt that there may be a few, as there are undoubtedly a ‘few bad apples’ in every cart. However, in my many years of practice I haven’t come across one. if your work is so flawless that you can make outlandish and bold statements like that Mr Cameron then well done. You have achieved something that no other social worker I know has, Perfection!! Please tell me how you achieve this higher state of being. I’m sure my colleagues would also like to know. Maybe you ought to read the Munroe review where she outlines more realistic expectations of SW’s and more workable and achievable recommendations for ‘The System’ and then go and call upon your friend at 10 Downing St, London and ask him how he can help effect these changes. Other than that, I suggest you shut up and keep your dangerous and narrow minded opinions to yourself.!!