Government 'too slow' on addressing child protection gaps
Ministers are expected to come in for criticism today over a lack of progress in plugging gaps within the child protection system.
A government commissioned report on Scotland’s child protection system published in November pointed to several weaknesses, particularly in relation to efforts to protect children deemed vulnerable but not officially looked after.
However, its author, chief executive of Children in Scotland, Jackie Brock, is today expected to voice her frustrations at a Holyrood Child Protection conference that, other than plans for a summit called for in the report to be held next month, little or no other activity is underway to address its recommendations.
The Brock report warned that children and families known to services are “not yet satisfactorily addressed systematically at local level”, recommending a focus be placed on improving protection for children who are “vulnerable and ‘on the radar’”.
Then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, accepted its recommendations over two months ago.
“We were pleased that the then Cabinet Secretary accepted the report’s recommendations, and hope that this summit is not a one-off and that progress will begin in advance of the summit and continue thereafter,” Brock said ahead of today’s conference in Edinburgh.
The report said Scotland was not yet in a position to conclude that the commitment and investment in the child protection system has achieved a confident and competent workforce for protecting children.
Local systems are “hindered by an over-complicated legislative system”, the report claimed, while the lack of community engagement and understanding of the whole community’s importance in protecting children was described as “troubling".
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The safety and wellbeing of children and young people is a priority for the Scottish Government and an issue we take extremely seriously. That's why we work continuously with law enforcement, children's charities, Parliament and others to protect children from abuse and target those who attempt to prey on them.
"The commissioning of the Jackie Brock report was one of a number of steps to protect our children.
"In the two months since this report was published we have been working hard with our partners to continue strengthening child protection policies, are convening a National Strategic Leadership Summit on Child Wellbeing and taking forward the commitments in the wide ranging national action plan on child sexual exploitation that we published in November to safeguard young people at risk."