Monday 12 November 2012

Meanwhile Coalition proposals increase risk to abused children claim experts

In all the controversy over Jimmy Savile and Newsnight the media have ignored proposals from the Coalition that, as part of their anti-red tape anti-health and safety agenda and privatisation agenda, could increase risks to children.

In a piece of research for the trade union Prospect LINK Dr Liz Davies, reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University and Roger Kline, Social Care spokesman for the Aspect group of Prospect. claim that the Working Together revision documents are 'not fit for purpose'. These documents have been the backbone for child protection work for many years.

In the light of recent revelations and in the current economic climate where there are increased pressures on adults through benefit cuts, low wages and unemployment, children are likely to become more susceptible to abuse and neglect.

Summarising their concerns, Davies, Kline and their co-authors argue:
1. The current proposals to revise Working Together are seriously flawed and dangerous. There are significant, and fundamental misunderstandings of what is required to protect children from harm. We are convinced the proposals will undermine multi-agency and multidisciplinary working. The failure to be sufficiently prescriptive and mandate certain measures will lead not only to confusion and mistakes but will undermine the ability of staff within each agency to prioritise and access resources to support the work of child protection.

2. The proposals appear to be driven by a desire to, ‘cut red tape’ but are undoubtedly part of the Government’s localism agenda. Through deregulation and the privatisation of services the proposals are just one aspect of the rolling back of the Welfare State. No evidence has been provided that such fundamental changes will improve child protection or responses to children in need, or that even the status quo will be maintained. We believe that, in fact, the proposed changes constitute a serious risk to vulnerable children. We strongly recommend that this revision be withdrawn so that a more considered, evidence based discussion can take place about what changes might be needed to Working Together in order to support good practice by the national provision of proportionate and relevant statutory guidance that is fit for purpose.

3. The objectives of the Revision include, ‘to provide the essentials that will enable and encourage good cross-agency working – so that all organisations understand what they should do to provide a coordinated approach to safeguarding’ (DfE 2012). In this submission we argue that, should it be approved as guidance, it will achieve the exact opposite. It is a non-evidence based attempt to drastically reduce the statutory guidance and we believe it will certainly leave the most vulnerable children at risk of harm unprotected as well as risk a reduction in services for those assessed as children in need.

4. The Revision promotes a form of professional dangerousness where children are placed at risk by the actions and omissions of policy makers. For reasons, presumably, of expediency, the guidance appears to have been cut merely to reduce page length and the impact assessments (2012 a&b) are clear that the changes would lead to cost cutting. The Revision sits well with government agendas of privatisation, deregulation and cuts. As the campaign Every Child in Need cites, ‘basic minimum national standards and requirements are essential. A hands-off approach, allowing local authorities to do what they want, when they want, is dangerous. Even the Government’s own impact assessment recognises this – it accepts that, “there is a risk of negative impact on children if central government is less prescriptive (DfE 2012b) That is not a risk we should be taking(Every Child in Need Campaign 2012).

5.. These changes come at a time when there is evidence of unprecedented increase in serious crime against children. Child abuse occurs within families and this context provided the focus of the Laming and Munro reviews (2009 and 2011). However, there is a vast international child abuse industry that exploits children and includes trafficking for commercial, domestic and sexual exploitation, online abuse, the illegal adoption trade, the illegal organ trade, forced marriage and the trade in abusive images. These are not marginal issues but are addressed by child protection professionals on a regular basis and yet the Laming and Munro reviews (2009 and 2011) were narrow in focus relating only to abuse within the family. Therefore the Revision, which is based on models of practice recommended in these recent reviews, omits examination of complex joint investigative work required to identify and target perpetrators and protect numbers of children in the context of organised crime. Ironically, the government only recently published an action plan with regard to child sexual exploitation (DfE 2011a) and yet comprehensive, existing Working Together guidance is being discarded (DfES 2009).
With the history of serious child abuse cases in Brent, and indeed deaths of children such children, it is imperative that Brent Council takes on these concerns and ensure that their procedures are effective and go beyond the Coalition's suggestions and urge the London Safeguarding Board to do the same.
Department for Education (DfE)(2011a) Tackling child sexual exploitation. Action Plan. London. DfE . Available from:
Department for Education (2011b) Tim Loughton M.P. response to parliamentary question by Andrea Leadsom M.P. 13th December 086572. Available from;
Department for Education (DfE) (2012a) Impact assessment. Revision of Working Together to
Department for Education (DfE) (2012b) Impact assessment. Managing individual cases.Framework of Assessment. Available from:
Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) (2009) Safeguarding children and
young people from sexual exploitation. London. The Stationery Office

1 comment:

Trevor said...

the way I look at things is that the governments are abusers themselves.
they consistently misuse their authority which causes immense suffering to the people they are meant to be serving.
if you look back through history you can see how governments have given their consent to the slave trade for example which caused immense suffering for years upon years to lots of people.
then if you look at what the government did with the legalization of smoking that too has undoubtedly caused immense suffering and immense amounts of preventable deaths.
one definition of abuse says that it is often used to improperly gain benefit.
so the person that abuses another is often motivated by selfish improper desire, thinking of what they will gain rather than what their victims will gain after they have been targeted.
also if you look at the damage smoking causes it should make you question what is the benefit to the person that smokes?
the answer is none at all...after all lung cancer and Throat cancer etc is not a benefit...the benefit of smoking is one sided in that the people behind the business benefit financially which of course is beneficial.
also the government benefit from the tax revenue they receive.
but what do the public that smoke receive?
well the 106,000 that die as a direct result from smoking receive death before it is naturally due and immensely damaged health.
is that worth handing your hard earned cash over for?
children who are sexually abused are often left damaged emotionally and mentally, unable to develop a relationship because of what was done to them when they were young and vulnerable.
what is the difference between a person who was highly exalted and honored and respected and yet dishonored himself by selfishly abusing young people in order to satisfy his improper desire
and mp's who legalize a substance that does nothing but hurt people literally in order to get what they selfishly crave which is money?
do not both show a disregard and respect for the feelings and rights of their fellow human being?
the only difference is the person that sexually abused children did so illegally but the government that exploited the public for selfish gain by means of tobacco did so legally because they make the rules to suit themselves.
but what they don't stop to realize is that they have created a system in which hypocrisy and double standards is at the heart of it where some are allowed to do what is clearly wrong by law while others are prevented from doing what is clearly wrong by law.
so while the current government has got itself involved in this terribly shameful scandal giving the impression they are against abuse, these are the very ones that have given their consent to abuse of another kind simply cause they benefit from it.