Wales warned about child protection meaures

DISTURBING gaps in the services meant to protect children from abuse have been identified across Wales. Three major reports compiled in the wake of the Baby Peter tragedy have raised concerns about the ability of all statutory services to properly safeguard children in the long-term.

The reports, by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, found that there have been improvements since the last all-Wales review in 2004.

But they said that too much reliance and expectation is put on social services to protect children.

Many social workers responsible for child protection work were “relatively” inexperienced and concerns have been raised about Wales’ 20 local safeguarding children boards, which bring together all statutory services.

CSSIW’s report into serious case reviews, which are routinely done in the worst cases of child abuse, raised worrying questions about their effectiveness and about whether their lessons are being learnt.

Large numbers of NHS staff have not had a Criminal Records Bureau check, with many believing that patient confidentiality overrules child protection.

Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, said, “It is not acceptable that in some places Criminal Records Bureau checks have not been made consistently. This cannot continue.”

Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “It is unacceptable to find ourselves in a situation whereby an indeterminate number of health professionals are working without CRB checks.”

The CSSIW review of child protection procedures, published yesterday, showed improvements since the last all-Wales review in 2004, but said: “Protecting children should not be about waiting for things to go wrong before individuals and organisations once again focus on how to do things better.

“The challenge is to develop and maintain the conditions and culture where safeguarding and protecting children is aligned and embedded across all parts of the system at all times.”