A new blueprint for child protection of future generations of
Scots has been warmly welcomed by 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, 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.