A national standards-setting body to monitor the performance of
child protection services was proposed at the fourth seminar of
phase two of the Victoria Climbie inquiry, writes
John Ransford, head of education and social policy at the Local
Government Association, said such a body would do away with the
need for public inquiries into child deaths.
The proposed body would set and monitor standards. Agencies
would explicitly contract with the new body, agreeing to deliver on
the standards for the local area. “That would mean that agencies
then have to deliver the resources – which is the key point
to make it work,” said Ransford. The local authority chief
executive would be the right person to ensure it was done in
whatever way the locality wanted.
The group of experts favoured such a body over a central agency
running child protection services.
Former chief social services inspector Sir William Utting warned
that child protection must not be split off from wider services.
“Child protection services are an integral part of child welfare
services generally and no system that separates them is going to
operate successfully.” Such services also needed to open to public
scrutiny and accountable to directly-elected representatives, he
Children’s charity the NSPCC proposed new
multi-disciplinary teams, but others warned that that could lead to
the blurring of roles between police officers and social workers
and yet further bureaucratic hurdles.
“We do not want to lose the very high quality service of each
profession,” said Thoburn, warning that there would be so many
separate teams that children would fall through the gaps.
Experts agreed that strengthening area child protection
committees could help improve closer working between agencies, and
could be one way to help prevent a repeat of the catastrophic
agency failings in Victoria’s case.
NSPCC policy advisor Rhian Stone said ACPCs needed be put on a
statutory footing as they lacked teeth.
Rob Hutchinson, chairperson of the Association of Directors of
Social Services children and families committee, suggested local
authority chief executives be made responsible for their local ACPC
in order to make the committee accountable to local politicians.
But he said there also had to be a way of ensuring health agencies
felt equally responsible.