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
    Taylor.

    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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