The Scottish government has rebuffed calls to make it easier to take children into care in the wake of yesterday’s two reports into the Brandon Muir case.
The country’s Labour Party – the main opposition to the Scottish National Party minority government – had called for a national inquiry into the child protection system, and legislation to “change the balance” of the care system towards removing children at risk more quickly.
And yesterday, Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie also questioned whether there should be a “shift in onus so that parents must prove they are fit and proper, rather than on the state to prove they are not”.
The Tories also called for “an independent appraisal of social work services in Scotland to assess whether the system is fit for purpose”.
Both parties have focused on children at risk from parental susbstance misuse, of which Gray claimed there were 20,000 across Scotland.
More children going into care
In response, children’s minister Adam Ingram (pictured) said: “More children are going into care – up 6% nationally last year and up 12% in Dundee. However, given the complex nature of family relationships and circumstances, legislating for every eventuality would be an impossible task.
“That’s why we believe that such decisions must be made by frontline professionals, based on the circumstances of an individual case, and with the overriding factor being to ensure the best interests and welfare of the child.”
Support for social workers
He said the government was trying to ensure better training, support and advice for social workers to support them in this task, pointing to a review of child protection guidance, due to report next year, and there being record numbers of social workers in post.
A significant case review into the killing of 23-month-old Brandon by his mother’s boyfriend found that his death could not have been predicted but criticised information-sharing and recording by agencies in Dundee.
A second report into the case, by former Fife chief constable Peter Wilson, concluded that agencies lacked a shared understanding about child protection, including thresholds for intervention, while managers and staff within agencies lacked a common grasp of how policies should be turned into practice.
New national safeguarding lead
The government also announced that it would appoint a national child protection co-ordinator to drive up safeguarding standards, in the wake of yesterday’s reports.
The co-ordinator will work with councils and the 30 child protection committees to implement and embed best practice on child protection, build stronger local professional networks and improve joint working between areas.
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