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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 06:28 GMT
Child protection system under scrutiny
Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell announces a comprehensive review
The Scottish Executive has announced a comprehensive review of child protection systems.

Education Minister Jack McConnell said the review is necessary to avoid a repeat of past tragedies where children have died as a result of social work failings.

The minister highlighted the case of three-year-old Dumfries girl Kennedy MacFarlane, who died last year after being attacked by her mother's boyfriend.

A report into the tragedy concluded that social workers and health staff failed to prevent the child's death despite clear warning signs that she was mistreated.

Kennedy McFarlane
The review was prompted by Kennedy's death

Speaking at a conference in Edinburgh on better integrated children's services, Mr McConnell said no child should "ever fall through the protection net" because professionals failed to work closely together.

He said: "I think that the recent child protection case in Dumfries and Galloway gives us an example of how important joined up services can be.

"We must make sure that no child should fall through the net, particularly vulnerable children, because people are not talking to each other.

"I am determined that we will do our best to prevent a repeat of this kind of incident.

"It is vital that we do more than just talk about joined up working. We must ensure that everyone, local government, agencies and departments, works better together locally to give the best service possible to our young people."

The review will be carried out by top officials and was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

It follows a recommendation from the inquiry into the death of Kennedy.

She was murdered in May last year by Thomas Duncan, her mother's boyfriend.

Warning signs

The judge at his trial said Kennedy's death involved an appalling degree of violence.

The inquiry that followed concluded that she could have been saved if warning signs had been followed.

It said action should have been taken when Kennedy's nursery alerted health professionals to bruising on her cheek and an unusually sore back two months before her death.

It also said that a health professional should have intervened when the child was taken to hospital with more bruising a fortnight before the fatal attack.

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