Blueprint for child protection unveiled

    A new blueprint for child protection of future generations of
    Scots has been warmly welcomed by child care agencies and
    politicians alike.

    The report, ‘Reducing the Risk – Improving the Response to
    Sex Offending,’ was published after a team of experts chaired by
    Lady Cosgrove, had 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 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, but
    are likely to be living unobtrusively in the community and be known
    to the children they abuse. All children should be given a personal
    safety programme at school being educated to recognise potentially
    abusive situations and trained to protect themselves.

    The experts categorically rejected the prospect 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 acknowledged: “Public confidence in the ability of
    agencies to monitor and supervise sex offenders has been, perhaps,
    low.” The panel do not promise to guarantee the protection of all
    children. Lady Cosgrove 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

    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.


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