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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Children in care 'being failed'
Victoria Climbie
Inspectors said the Victoria Climbie inquiry report had influenced policy
Local authorities in England are failing vulnerable children in their care, independent inspectors have said.

In a joint report, eight inspectorates, led by the Commission for Social Care Inspection, said child services had improved overall since 2002.

But the report said there were still "serious failings", with disabled children particularly short-changed.

In response, Junior Children's Minister Maria Eagle acknowledged: "There is more to do and we will be doing it."

We're part way through implementing an entire new and better system for dealing with these issues
Maria Eagle
Junior children's minister

She told the BBC: "The landscape that this inspectors' report has looked at has changed beyond all recognition from that that they were looking at just three years ago.

"We're part way through implementing an entire new and better system for dealing with these issues and I think the report recognises that."

Second report

Inspectors from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, HM Inspectorate of Court Administration and the Office for Standards in Education worked on the Safeguarding Children report.

It is a repeat of the inspectorates' first Safeguarding Children report in 2002, which found all agencies accepted their responsibility to ensure that children were safeguarded but this was not always reflected in practice.

The latest report identified a number of failings:

  • Children in care were being sent to live hundreds of miles away from their homes and families, without adequate support.
  • Children with a physical or learning disability were not always being properly protected
  • There were a lack of proper Criminal Records Bureau checks on some staff who work with children, especially agency staff and foreign workers.

The Chief Inspector for the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate (CSCI), David Behan, told the BBC he was pleased that the "status" of work in child protection had improved.

"I want to really stress the examples of good practice which we're publishing in our report today, where agencies are working together at a local level to really make a difference on safeguarding children," he said.

Ongoing issues

But he said there were still areas of concern and the report had "shone a torch into some of the specific corners in child protection work and in safeguarding work".

What we're doing in this report is saying 'good progress is being made, but more progress needs to be made'...
David Behan

Mr Behan said the report had made some recommendations to ensure the system of checking was consistently applied to all staff working with children.

He said the second key area of recommendations dealt with "ensuring that those staff that undertake this very difficult task, have got the knowledge and the skills to be able to undertake the job we're asking them to do".

"And then the third area is we want to ensure that there are effective performance management systems in place in all the agencies, so that the policies that are now there and in place.

"What we're doing in this report is saying 'good progress is being made, but more progress needs to be made' and we have been very specific in terms of particular groups of children where we need to attend to their needs", he said.


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