Child protection

Essential information on child protectionNew Asset

This article features key information about child protection and child abuse including child protection services, child abuse cases, child protection policy, child protection training and child protection procedures.

It includes information about child protection legislation including the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004

Key sections within this article focus on major child abuse cases in the UK which have led to major reforms of child protection procedures. These cases include the murder of Victoria Climbie and the Soham tragedy involving Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

Child abuse articles

Children social worker jobs

Child protection vacancies

Child care providers from the Purchasing Care Directory

Click on the following headings for further information about child protection or scroll down.

The Children Act 1989

The Victoria Climbie Inquiry

Every Child Matters

Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells – The Soham Tragedy

The Bichard Report

Children’s commissioner

Children’s database

Child protection register

CRB (Criminal Records Bureau)

The Protection of Children Act List

Local Safeguarding Children Boards

National service framework for children, young people and maternity services

Sexual Offences Act 2003

The Children Act 1989

The Children Act 1989 was the main legislation governing child protection procedures which aimed to protect children from child abuse.


* reforms the law relating to children;

* makes provision for local authority services for children in need and others;

* amends the law with respect to children’s homes, community home, voluntary homes and voluntary organisations;

* makes provision with respect to fostering, child minding and day care for young children and adoption, and for connected purposes.

However, due to several high profile child abuse cases in recent years, including the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie, the child protection system has faced major reforms culminating in a new Children Act 2004.

The Children Act 1989

The Children Act 2004

Information on child abuse cases

The Victoria Climbie inquiry

The Victoria Climbie case was the most horrific child abuse case seen in this country and did little to improve the negative portrayal of social workers in the media.

Victoria Climbie died in February 2000 with 128 separate injuries on her body after months of child abuse at the hands of her great aunt Marie Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning.

Kouao attained false documents to get Victoria Climbie into Britain from the Ivory Coast where she was born. Shortly after Kouao met Manning and she and Victoria Climbie moved in with him.

The eight-year-old came into contact with health, police and social services on several occasions and twice was taken to hospital with injuries including scalding to her head and face. There were also allegations of child sexual abuse which were later withdrawn. She was admitted to casualty at North Middlesex hospital in 24 February 2000 and was declared dead the next day.

In January 2001, Kouao and Manning were convicted of murder and child cruelty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Health Secretary and Home Secretary appointed Lord Laming to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances leading to and surrounding the death of Victoria Climbié. Phase One of the Inquiry looked specifically at the circumstances leading to Victoria’s death and heard from 158 witnesses. Phase Two assessed the child protection system in general and consisted of five seminars with oral submissions from 121 expert contributors.

Lord Laming published his final report in January 2003.

Victoria Climbie report

Articles about Victoria Climbie

The Victoria Climbie Charitable Trust

Every Child Matters

In 2003, the government published a green paper called Every Child Matters alongside the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié.

The green paper built on existing plans to strengthen preventive services by focusing on four key themes:

• Increasing the focus on supporting families and carers
• Ensuring necessary intervention takes place before children reach crisis point and protecting children from falling through the net
• Addressing the underlying problems identified in the report into the death of Victoria Climbié – weak accountability and poor integration
• Ensuring that the people working with children are valued, rewarded and trained.

There was a wide consultation with people working in children’s services, and with parents, children and young people and following this, the government published Every Child Matters: the Next Steps, and passed the Children Act 2004, providing the legislative spine for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families.

Every Child Matters: Change for Children was published in November 2004.

Every Child Matters

The Children Act 2004

Essential information about the Children Act 2004

Jessica Chapman and Holly Well – The Soham tragedy

On 4 August 2002, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman both aged 10-years-old, went missing from their home in Soham, Cambridgeshire. Less than two weeks later, their bodies were found in a ditch at Lakenheath, Suffolk.

Ian Huntley, a school caretaker in the village, and his classroom assistant fiancé, Maxine Carr, were later arrested. Ian Huntley was charged with the two school girls’ murder while Maxine Carr was charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

In December 2003, Ian Huntley was found guilty of Holly and Jessica’s murders and given two life sentences. A High Court judge has since ruled that Ian Huntley will spend at least 40 years in jail.  Maxine Carr was cleared of assisting an offender but found guilty of conspiracy and given a three-and-a-half-year term.

The Bichard Inquiry

The day after Ian Huntley was found guilty, the Home Secretary announced the launch of an independent inquiry into the manner in which the police had handled intelligence about the school taker’s past and about the vetting processes which ultimately led to his employment in a local school.

Sir Michael Bichard, rector of the London Institute and a former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Employment, was appointed as chairman of the inquiry.

The Inquiry examined the effectiveness of Humberside and Cambridgeshire police forces’ relevant intelligence-based record keeping, vetting practices and information sharing with other agencies. The Bichard Inquiry Report draws conclusions on these matters and makes recommendations that are relevant for police, social services, education establishments, vetting departments and the government to protect children and the vulnerable nationally.

The Bichard report

Protecting children

The children’s commissionerNew Asset

In March 2005, Professor Al Aynsley-Green was appointed as the first children’s commissioner in England to represent the interests and views of children.

Children’s commissioner for England

There are three other commissioners:-

Peter Clarke – Welsh children’s commissioner

Kathleen Marshall – Scottish children’s commissioner

Barney McNeany – interim children’s commissioner for Northern Ireland

Children’s database

Again another outcome of Every Child Matter, the children’s database is the government’s response to Lord Laming’s call for better joint working practice and data-sharing between all agencies involved with vulnerable children. Ten information sharing and assessment (ISA) trailblazer pilots received £1 million each to explore different models of effective practice.

All local authorities will have an ISA system – or data-sharing index – with basic details of every child under 18-years-old in their area, including name, address, gender, GP by the end of 2008. Professionals involved with a child will have access to the system and will be able to flag up whether they have any concerns about child abuse or other problems. This will be visible to the next agency or professional coming into contact with the child. The idea is for these localised databases to form a national database.

Professor Al Aynsley-Green published a report which found that children may be deterred from using sensitive services through concerns about confidentiality. Therefore the Department for Education and Skills launched a consultation in September 2006 which confirmed the index would only hold basic information.

Child protection register

Child protection registers have historically held the names of those children deemed to be at risk of significant harm and held by social services departments.

However these will be scrapped by April 2008, according to revised government guidance on safeguarding children, after Lord Laming’s report called their abolition.

A record of children who are the subject of child protection plans will instead be contained in electronic social care files, under the Integrated Children’s System.

And agencies will have to contact key workers directly to discuss concerns about individual children, according to the updated Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance published in April 2006.

Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)

Employers must apply for standard or enhanced disclosure for potential employees working with children or vulnerable adults. Both types of disclosure detail all convictions on the police national computer, including spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. Enhanced disclosures are only used when an employee would have greater, often unsupervised, contact with children.

The Protection of Children Act list (Poca)New Asset

The name of anyone working with children who has been dismissed for misconduct “which harmed a child or placed a child at risk of harm” is placed on this list. Both Angella Mairs, social work team manager, and social worker Lisa Arthurworrey, who were involved in the Victoria Climbie case, were placed on the list. However, both won their appeals against inclusion on the list.

Local Safeguarding Children Boards

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are designed to help key agencies work together to ensure children are safeguarded properly. They put the former area child protection committees (ACPCs) on a statutory footing.

The core membership of LSCBs is set out in the Children Act 2004, and includes local authorities, health bodies, the police and others. The objective of LSCBs is to coordinate and to ensure the effectiveness of their member agencies in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

National service framework for children, young people and maternity services

The NSF was published in September 2004 and is a 10-year strategy setting standards for children’s health and social services.

Sexual Offences Act 2003

The Sexual Offences Act is aimed at protecting the public, specifically children and families, from sexual offenders. This child abuse law takes account of current knowledge of sexual offending eg by including the offence of grooming over the internet. Under the act, police, probation and other agencies have their ability to track, control and monitor sexual offenders enhanced. And there are restrictions on foreign travel and prevention orders that restrict who offenders can associate with and where they go.

Useful links

Department for Education and Skills – government department overseeing children’s welfare

Every Child Matters – government’s agenda for reform of children’s services

Teachernet – for schools and local authorities

NSPCC – child protection charity

Scottish executive – child protection section

Unicef’s campaign to end child exploitation

NCH – children’s charity


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