‘Honest’ response needed to child protection reviews

Child protection reviews in Wales will be conducted quicker in future, it has been announced.

Concise reviews will take three months and comprehensive reports will be ready in six months.

Deputy social services minister Gwenda Thomas told AMs the changes were challenging because some reviews were currently taking years.

The Conservatives said it was an issue ministers had to get right and there was “no room for error”.

Ms Thomas said services must be “open, honest and transparent when things go wrong and learn the lessons”.

In a Senedd statement on learning from serious case reviews, Mrs Thomas said the two kinds of review would form part of three “building blocks”.

They will be accompanied by multi-agency professional forums to allow services to learn from cases and improve protection arrangements.

Police investigations and legal cases could mean reviews take longer than the intended three or six months, the assembly government said.

The main difference between the two types of review would be whether the child was on the child protection register.

Mrs Thomas said: “This is an important shift in emphasis and culture which allows practitioners to reflect and learn from positive circumstances, and not just when things have gone wrong and are surrounded by media glare.

“It can be a harsh and cruel world. We must recognise that sometimes people treat children in a way that the rest of society finds reprehensible.

“However, many children across Wales are protected every day by front line professionals.”

‘No room for error’

She added: “These professionals work hard, often in difficult circumstances and do not receive the recognition and thanks they deserve.”

She said she hoped the new arrangements would be in place before the end of the year.

A pilot project examining child suicides will continue into next year.

Conservative health spokesman Nick Ramsay said the number of significant case reviews had grown in recent years.

He said: “This is such an important topic ministers, this is an area where the assembly government simply has to get it right. There’s no room for error in this.”

Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones, who chairs the assembly’s cross-party children and young people committee, said the review process must help officials learn from mistakes.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Veronica German welcomed the statement saying professionals would welcome the multi-agency forums.