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Call to end child protection red tape

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Local child protection services should be freed from central government red tape to allow them to focus on the needs of children, an independent review has recommended.

Staff should be set free from regulations which prevent them from learning from mistakes, Professor Eileen Munro of the London School of Economics suggests in a report commissioned after the death of Baby Peter.

Prof Munro says local children’s services should be concentrating on what happened rather than why - which she says is not encouraged under the current system.

Ofsted should be stripped of its role in evaluating reports into the deaths of abused children, Prof Munro’s review, conducted for the Department for Education, also said.

Local services are currently judged on how well they have carried out processes and procedures rather than on what the end result was for the children themselves, Prof Munro added.

If implemented, local child protection services would no longer be required to complete assessments within a set timescale, which Prof Munro said would leave them free to give equal weight to helping children and families, as well as assessing their problems.

She believes if all local services co-ordinated to offer help to families who did not meet the criteria for social care services, problems could be addressed before they escalated to child protection issues.

She said: “A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right way for child protection services to operate.

“Top-down government targets and too many forms and procedures are preventing professionals from being able to give children the help they need and assess whether that help has made a difference.”

Inspection systems must be “fit for purpose” Prof Munro added.

“That is why I have been working with Ofsted to look at how the criteria they use can be better focused on the experiences of children, young people and their families.”

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