Inspectors say social services need too much evidence to protect children

Children are being put at risk because the threshold of evidence
for social services to investigate concerns are too high, a new
report shows, writes Katie Leason.

‘Safeguarding Children’, a joint report by eight independent
inspectorates including social services, probation and Ofsted,
shows that all the agencies involved are concerned about the
thresholds social services apply in children’s services.

The report reveals that different agencies feel that social
services are not able to provide an adequate response to
situations, which do not involve a high risk of serious harm to
children and young people. It also says staff in the different
agencies believe that social services do not give sufficient advice
and guidance when welfare concerns are raised.

In addition, the report highlights how some agencies, including
schools, are reluctant to refer child welfare concerns to police
and social services, and reveals that specific services such as
independent schools, GPs, and child and adolescent mental health
services are not well integrated into local safeguarding

The report makes a specific recommendation that social services
should review the thresholds for providing services, carrying out
child protection enquiries and holding initial child protection
conferences, and to make sure all local agencies understand these

Inspectorates involved in the report:

Social Services Inspectorate

Office for Standards in Education

Commission for Health Improvement

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation

Her Majesty’s Magistrates’ Courts Service

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons

The report is based on evidence from recent inspections along
with findings from a programme of joint inspections addressing the
inter-agency arrangements for safeguarding children in eight area
child protection committee localities between December 2001 and
March 2002.

General Findings:

– ‘safeguarding’ not given enough focus in service planning and
allocation of resources across all agencies
– many services under pressure and experiencing major difficulties
recruiting and retaining staff, which is affecting safeguarding
– staff from all agencies confused about their responsibilities and
duties to share information about child welfare concerns with other
– a lack of commitment to and inadequate resources for area child
protection committees

General recommendations:

– support national and local agencies to recruit and retain
sufficient levels of appropriately qualified staff paying
particular regard to the image, status, morale, remuneration and
working conditions of specialist child protection staff
– ensure the safeguarding of children is firmly and consistently
reflected in national and local service planning
– establish minimum expectations, standards and curriculum for
child protection training as part of the core professional training
of all professionals working with children and young people, eg
teachers, police
– consider whether ACPCs and multi agency public protection panels
should be established on a statutory basis

For a full copy of the report go to

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