Sir Keir Starmer has attacked the national culture of ‘witch hunting’ that follows child protection tragedies and is, he warned, harming social work.
Speaking to a packed crowd of social workers at Community Care Live, the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service criticised the national culture that blames public servants for child protection tragedies, allowing society to absolve itself of responsibility.
“To my mind, I see not individual failings, but something more profound,” the former director of public prosecutions told social work delegates. “By going after individuals, we let ourselves off.”
Starmer warned this allows society to believe that ‘better’ individuals in safeguarding roles would have prevented the problems in high profile cases, such as the recent Rotherham and Rochdale child sexual exploitation scandals.
I didn’t find police and prosecutors who didn’t care, they were ordinary men and women doing their jobs. The problem was not a rogue prosecutor, but something far more fundamental.
He used his speech to argue for the mandatory reporting of child abuse, with the duty to do this being backed up by statute. This would have to compliment safeguarding and not cut across it, he said.
Starmer also described “fundamental” problems in the ways that police and prosecutors deal with child victims of abuse, and called the fact that the vast majority of abuse victims do not come forward, “a real indictment of our system”.
“I didn’t find police and prosecutors who didn’t care, they were ordinary men and women doing their jobs,” he said. “The problem was not a rogue prosecutor, but something far more fundamental.
“All police and prosecutors ask: Will the person be credible? Will the jury believe them?” Starmer said.
He described how police were trying to predict how the jury would react and establish whether a victim would “survive the journey” of court hearings and appearances.
He questioned how services can work better to “bridge” child victims or young people at risk into child protection services and expressed shock at the lack of provision for victims and services that have no quality assurance standards.
Starmer is currently working with the charity Kids Company on their campaign to reform the child protection system.
Story courtesy of Community Care
Age assessments of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children must be carried out by social workers and draw on a multi-agency approach, the professional association for social workers has warned.
The Nationality and Borders Bill, which lays out a raft of legislative measures to change the processes for migrants and asylum seekers in the UK, is currently in [...]
PAMS assessments have been synonymous with specialist parent assessments for adults with learning disabilities since shortly after the assessment framework was established in 1998.
PAMS stands for ‘Parent Assessment Manual Software’ and since its introduction it has been used by social workers and independent experts to assess parents when there are child protection concerns. The [...]
There has been a rise in the number of cases starting in the family courts as there were 66,357 new cases in April to June 2021, up 14% on the same quarter in 2020, according to Ministry of Justice figures.
The increase was due to rises in most case types: financial remedy (76%), private law [...]