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Monday, 6 November, 2000, 20:32 GMT
Child commissioner role concern
Bryn Estyn children's home
Much of the abuse took place at Bryn Estyn home
Criticism is growing over the way the Welsh Assembly is recruiting Britain's first children's commissioner.

The closing date for applications for the 70,000 post was Monday but a charities umbrella organisation says it is concerned the commissioner could become a "faceless bureaucrat".

Children in Wales along with charities such as the NSPCC have claimed that children themselves are not being consulted properly.

NSPCC's Sara Reid
NSPCC policy adviser Sara Reid

The idea for the job began with a recommended in the Waterhouse Report written following the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry into physical and sexual abuse of youngsters who had been taken into care.

It was to be a UK first for Wales.

But some feel that any pride in that is now being over-shadowed by a fear that whoever gets the job could find themselves bogged down by bureaucracy.

"The Assembly voted on a report that included a very broad vision of the commissioner," said Sara Reid, policy adviser for the NSPCC.

"Unfortunately, the job description in the application pack is nothing like that.

"In fact, it's dangerously close to the sort of commissioner's role that we didn't want to see - somebody who's bogged down in services, complaints and regulations and cannot be proactive and reach out to children."


Other charities have said they feel that the appointment is being rushed through.

The Assembly Health Minister Jane Hutt has pledged that the Commissioner will be in place by the end of the year.

In December shortlisted candidates will have to face a panel of children and teenagers, some of them from deprived backgrounds, before going on to a formal interview with Assembly Members and their advisers.

"The time hasn't been given for an organisation to go out and consult with people so that all sorts of young people in those different places of care can be given a voice," said Carol Floris from Voices from Care.

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