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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 16:50 GMT
Child protection challenge

Child protection agencies must work to ensure there are no repeats of the abuse scandals which have shocked Scotland, according to the first minister.

Jack McConnell told a conference of experts in the field that first rate communication has a crucial role to play in ensuring children do not fall through the care net.

The experts have been looking at changes in protection services following the death of three-year-old Kennedy MacFarlane in Dumfries.

Kennedy was murdered three years ago by her mother's boyfriend, Thomas Duncan, and an inquiry into her death said poor communication between child protection services was partly to blame.

Kennedy MacFarlane
Kennedy MacFarlane: Murdered by mother's boyfriend
Mr McConnell outlined progress in the three-year programme announced in November following a review of Kennedy's case.

The Hammond Inquiry said there was poor communication between social workers, education authorities and other bodies.

Speaking in Glasgow at a meeting of council officials, health chiefs, charities and police officers, Mr McConnell said local welfare managers must ensure that the Scottish Executive's reforms are adopted.

He said: "I hope each and every one of you recognises your personal responsibility.

"Only you can ensure that your staff are supported and working across the range of agencies which are involved in child protection."

Detailing progress the executive has made, Mr McConnell said work is under way on setting up a child protection team, which would tackle poor performance in local agencies.

Those working with children said they believed it would make a difference.

Stella Perrot, of Social Work Services, said she was sure the charter would ensure children would have to tell their story only once for action to be taken.

Helpline centre

Discussions are also continuing on a new inspection system.

The first minister said the charity Save the Children had been appointed to produce a Children's Charter spelling out the rights youngsters should expect.

A helpline centre run by ChildLine will also open in Aberdeen later this year with the aid of Scottish Executive funding.

  • Work has begun on a protocol aimed at ensuring better co-ordination between local authorities in Scotland and England.

    It follows the death of five-year-old Danielle Reid, whose body was found in the Caledonian Canal in Inverness last month.

    Her primary school was believed to have been told that she had moved to England and did not suspect anything was wrong.



    Jane Chilton reports
    "Those working with children said it would make a difference"

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