Child protection system could be replaced, first minister warns

Scotland’s first minister Jack McConnell has warned that if the
country’s child protection system continues to fail it will be
replaced, writes Nicola Barry.

He told a child protection summit in Glasgow involving local
authority, health, police and voluntary sector representatives,
that new investment had to be matched by reform.

The summit was organised after a major review of all child
protection services found that over half of all children at risk
were not adequately protected or cared for.

McConnell said urgent action was needed “before another Kennedy
McFarlane or Caleb Ness dies at the hands of the very person
supposed to be caring for them”.

“Those who run the system have a personal responsibility to
radically improve child protection,” he said.

“Locally, professional boundaries cannot be allowed to stand in
the way of the job we have to do. Scotland’s children need to
see barriers removed now. They need us all to show leadership and
give them the service they have the right to expect.”

Ministers want a three-year reform programme for child
protection services, an expert team to oversee reform and tackle
poor performance locally, a tough new inspection system to ensure
reform is delivered, a children’s charter setting out the
support children have a right to expect and increased investment in

The first minister said that if the system goes on failing to
protect children “then ministers will not protect the system”.

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