Child murder review criticizes ‘weak decision-making’
According to a study, multi-agency child protection units should be set up in each local area, as information is not shared between different branches of the public sector.
The national review of child protection practices follows the tragic deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson.
The findings, released today, revealed their deaths were not isolated incidents but reflected ‘wider issues’ in child protection practice, including ‘poor information sharing between professionals and weak decision-making”.
The panel – led by Annie Hudson, former director of children’s services at Lambeth LBC and Bristol City Council – urges the government to act by creating multi-agency child protection units led by experts in the police, health and social work, to investigate and supervise children at risk.
The panel also calls for the establishment of national multi-agency standards of practice for child protection, to provide “quality and consistent” standards of practice for those working with at-risk children.
The report follows the release on Monday of a major independent study into child welfare, which also found loopholes in protecting information sharing between different local agencies. Among other things, it recommends that each local backup arrangement have information sharing agreements in place for backup purposes.
The panel also wants to see the child protection system strengthened at national level through a new national child protection council, bringing together relevant departments in Whitehall with representatives from local government, police, education and health.
Panel chair Annie Hudson warned that in “too many cases, there is inadequate coordination in how agencies respond to high-risk situations where children are being abused.”
“Right now, every professional who comes into contact with a child holds a piece of the puzzle of what is going on in a child’s life. Our proposed reforms would bring together experts from social work, police and health as one team so they can get a better idea of what is happening to a child, listening carefully to the concerns of loved ones and taking action. necessary to protect children,” she said. .
In reaction to the report, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi pledged to launch a ministerial group on child protection before presenting a “bold implementation plan” later this year. He said he would achieve a “fundamental shift in how we support better outcomes for our most vulnerable children and families”.
Separately, the panel also made recommendations to protect partners in Solihull and Bradford.
In Solihull, this included reviewing and putting in place strategies to ensure practitioners know how to respond to incidents of domestic violence and understand the risks to children of prisoners, as well as to ensure that agency assessments rely on information from all professionals involved and those trying to speak on behalf of the child.
Bradford was asked to develop a comprehensive early support offer to access before, during and after child and family social service assessments.
It was also asked to agree on clear expectations around risk assessment and decision-making and to ensure these are understood by all agencies.