A new blueprint for child protection for future generations of
Scots has been warmly welcomed by both child care agencies and
The report, Reducing the Risk – Improving the Response to
Sex Offending, was published after a team of experts, chaired by
Lady Cosgrove, spent three years exploring the best way forward
following issues raised by the Chief Inspector of Social Work in
1997. While the report has a list of 73 recommendations, the main
themes are towards education and protection.
A major plank of the group’s findings is based on the
acceptance that the majority of offenders are not high profile
individuals but are likely to be living unobtrusively in the
community and be known to the children they abuse. The group
recommends all children should be given a personal safety programme
at school enabling them to recognise potentially abusive situations
and trained to protect themselves.
The experts categorically rejected the idea of naming and
shaming offenders. The panel concluded that there is “convincing
evidence” that disclosure of information on offenders to the public
made little contribution to the protection of children.
Lady Cosgrove commented: “Public confidence in the ability of
agencies to monitor and supervise sex offenders has been, perhaps,
low.” And she acknowledge that the panel could not promise to
guarantee the protection of all children. But she asserted: “While
the problem is not one which can be eradicated, I am confident that
the changes in this report will help reduce the risk and improve
the response to sex offending.”
Margaret McKay, chief executive of Children 1st, the child
protection voluntary organisation, welcomed the report and said:
“Keeping children safe is everyone’s business. We need to
build public confidence in the supervision of sex offenders in the
community if the concerns and fears of parents are to be
Jim Wallace, justice minister, described the report as “an
important contribution” to the debate on protecting children.
Wallace announced that he had decided to distribute the document
widely for public consultation and the Scottish executive’s
actions would be informed by responses.