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EDINBURGH 'WEAKNESSES' REVEALED IN CHILD PROTECTION INVESTIGATION

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An internal audit of child protection cases at Edinburgh City Council has revealed serious weaknesses in the servic...
An internal audit of child protection cases at Edinburgh City Council has revealed serious weaknesses in the service four months after the council was criticised for its handling of the Caleb Ness child death case.

According to the audit, almost one in five children on Edinburgh's child protection register had not had a comprehensive risk assessment. Just under a fifth did not have a chronological history in their case file and 15% did not have a child protection plan.

In almost a quarter of cases, communication with education services had broken down, while poor communication with health partners was noted in 17% of cases.

The audit comes in the wake of criticism of the council's role in the Caleb Ness case, in which an 11-week-old baby on Edinburgh's at-risk register was shaken to death by his father. A report commissioned by the Edinburgh & Lothian's Child Protection Committee found failings 'at almost every level' of social work and health services (LGC, 24 October 2003).

Edinburgh's executive member for social work, Kingsley Thomas (Lab), said that although the audit had identified some areas where improvement was needed, the results indicated that levels of protection in the city were above the national average.

'We will continue to improve our systems and new procedures are being implemented,' he said.

An external review team is carrying out an in-depth case review of a sample of children on the register, while a report on the proposed restructuring of the social work department is due next month.

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