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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 11:49 GMT
Children promised own 'champion'
Victoria Climbie
Victoria Climbie suffered horrendous abuse from her carers
Children will be given their own independent "champion" among new measures to boost child protection.

Plans to strengthen children's social services are also in the Queen's Speech in the wake of the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie.

The measures, trailed earlier this year, aim to make local councils, police and other agencies working on child protection work better together.

There will also be new powers for intervention in failing services.

Information sharing

The Children's Bill follows a green paper from Education Secretary Charles Clarke earlier this year. Consultation on those plans continues.

It also envisaged improved tracking and sharing of information between child care services, with every child being given an identity number.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the time that the changes would be "the most far-reaching reform of children's services for 30 years".

Mr Clarke said then that the "shameful failings" that had surrounded the Victoria Climbie case must never be repeated - and he promised much clearer accountability and greater integration of child protection services.

New posts

The paper proposed the creation of Local Safeguarding Children Boards which would bring together local education authorities, health and social services.

And there will be a new post of director of children's services in each area, to be accountable to local education and social services.

The idea of a children's commissioner post for England was supported by Lord Laming in his report into Victoria Climbie's death.

Victoria died in north London in 2000, after prolonged neglect and cruelty by her carers. Lord Laming's report said that she had been seen by various professionals who did not share information and failed to save her.

Wales and Northern Ireland already have a children's commissioner, and Scotland is about to appoint one.

The green paper also promised to improve the co-ordination of different professions and services working with children.

There would be a local database of all children within the area, showing information such as date of birth, the name of GPs and schools, and whether there had been problems, such as school exclusions, involvement with social services or trouble with the police.


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