Children’s fears could be neglected under plans for children’s commissioner role

The concerns of children and young people in England could be
neglected as a result of the education secretary having powers over
the children’s commissioner for England, Welsh commissioner
Peter Clarke warned last night, writes Amy

The Children Act states that the secretary of state has powers
over the children’s commissioner to enable the government to
interfere in the commissioner’s actions.

Speaking to the Education and Skills Committee inquiry into the
planned reforms of children’s services last night, the
children’s commissioner for Wales, Peter Clarke, said that
the powers were to enable the government to carry out
“operational interference” in what the English
commissioner was doing if it wished.

The secretary of state can order the English commissioner to
hold inquiries into cases of individual children in England that he
thinks raise issues relevant to other children. However, Clarke
said the government already had the power to appoint people to
carry out these sorts of inquiries – as demonstrated by the
Victoria Climbie inquiry.

But he warned that some children and young people’s
concerns were likely to be “knocked off course” by an
inquiry ordered by the secretary of state.

The DfES committee inquiry continues.

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