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48 incidents of abuse in care system should be made public

The Chair of Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel is being urged to publish a report detailing 48 separate incidents where looked after children entered care following abuse or neglect and then died in care, or were seriously harmed.

Annie Hudson, Chair, Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel

Led by Article 39, more than 30 signatories including BASW, SWU, Children England, Coram Group, Just for Kids Law and the Association of Lawyers for Children have sent a joint letter to Panel Chair Annie Hudson, calling for her to publish the Panel’s report.

“At a time of huge concern about the well-being of children in the care of the state, and widespread commitment to bring about fundamental change, we believe it is imperative that we collectively learn from incidents where highly vulnerable children have suffered grave harms. The care review led by Josh MacAlister is due to report in a matter of weeks, and we consider the Panel’s report could contain critical evidence about systemic failings in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of looked after children,” said the letter.

“Your Panel is leading two national reviews into the appalling deaths of two young children, Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson. The reports from these reviews are due to be published at the end of May 2022, and they will feed into Josh MacAlister’s analysis and recommendations for child protection,” the letter added.

The group say it is vital that the Panel’s analysis of 48 incidents where looked after children died or were seriously harmed is made public and can contribute to policy development around the children’s care system.

According to Article 39, the charity has been seeking to obtain the Panel’s report from the Department for Education and had to resort to making a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The charity says the Department for Education refuses to release the report because it states this was shared by the Panel with the Secretary of State only as part of Article 39’s judicial review connected to the use of unregulated accommodation.

However, Article 39 and the other signatories believe that learning from these 48 incidents should be a collective endeavour and “far wider than a minister having sight of the document during litigation”.

“As with other safeguarding reports containing very private information, we understand the need for appropriate redactions ahead of publication to protect the privacy of individual children and their families. However, we do not believe the safeguarding of children who are looked after by the state can be assured or advanced by continuing secrecy. We therefore respectfully ask that you publish the report as a matter of urgency,” the letter concludes.

The letter is available here.

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