Children in Scotland are not being protected, says executive report

Half of all children in Scotland at risk of abuse and neglect
are not receiving adequate protection, according to a report
published earlier this week by the Scottish executive.

The report reveals that children are still at risk despite having a
number of referrals. It also describes occasions when social
workers did not apply for a protection order because they were
reluctant to allow the court to scrutinise their work.

In response, the executive has promised a three-year programme of
sustained activity, including a national team of police officers
and other experts to work directly with local agencies to implement
reform and tackle poor performance. ChildLine Scotland is also to
be given £500,000 to open a second call centre in

First minister Jack McConnell said the report made “worrying and
uncomfortable reading”.

Stella Perrott, review team leader and depute chief inspector of
social work services in Scotland, said: “In over half of the cases
investigated, children were either not getting the protection they
needed or were only partially protected.

“Interagency working needs to be improved substantially in order
for children to be better protected.”

The Association of Directors of Social Work welcomed the
recommendations, but president Jim Dickie added that little had
been done nationally to tackle the problem despite a number of
high-profile child abuse cases. These had created an “intolerable
strain on the child protection system”.

He pointed out that, in the 11 years since Lord Clyde’s report on
alleged satanic abuse in Orkney, councils and the ADSW had been
calling for a coherent national framework for raising standards,
improving interagency training and tackling recruitment and
retention crises in social work.

“It is only in recent months that our pleas to the Scottish
executive for co-operation are beginning to be heard. Child
protection has been haemorrhaging staff in recent years.
Experienced social workers have been leaving this demanding, yet
poorly resourced area, leaving behind too many inexperienced,
over-burdened staff.”

Professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers
Ruth Stark added: “Protection services need to be drawn from a
children’s rights perspective, in line with the UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child.”

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