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'SCALE OF ABUSE WILL NOT RECUR' - ADSS

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Jo Williams, on behalf of the ADSS has expressed her sense of sorrow and outrage at the horrifying things that happ...
Jo Williams, on behalf of the ADSS has expressed her sense of sorrow and outrage at the horrifying things that happened in 1970s and 1980s reported on this week by Ronald Waterhouse. Paying tribute to Welsh secretary Paul Murphy's apology to the victims of abuse on behalf of all the agencies involved, she repeated the Association's call for as rapid as possible settlement of compensation for proven victims.

She went on to say that the improved safeguards which have been introduced to social services over the past few years following the Warner and Utting reports, had wrung many abusers out of the system, and was continuing to prevent their entering it. She acknowledged, though, that 'evil individuals who devote a lifetime to planning how to abuse children might always thwart our efforts. There is certainly no room for any complacency.'

Pointing out that many of Sir Ronald's recommendations 'were already either in place or in the process of being implemented', she singled out the following proposals for special attention:

- The appointment of a children's commissioner for Wales was welcomed, although she stressed that there should also be one for England, 'to ensure children's rights are respected and their cases handled appropriately. Many of the children involved were placed by English authorities.'

- An overhaul of social services' complaints systems and the creation of designated complaints officers for children will ensure that their voices will be heard.

- The need for social services management to give strong leadership to children's services by the appointment of senior staff with appropriate experience is vital.

She warned however that some of Sir Ronald's suggestions were more complicated and needed careful consideration:

- It is unclear what impact an advisory council for children's services would have, but ADSS notes the problems faced by a number of smaller authorities in areas such as strategic planning and the provision of specialist services.

Overall, she said that Sir Ronald's recommendation to review pay status and career development for residential and field social workers in children's services is to be welcomed. We need to recruit and retain high quality people to put themselves forward to do this difficult work with children.

In summary, Mrs Williams welcomed the recommendations and hoped that 'today marks the start of a new era when children will be valued, listened to and their rights addressed.'

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