Society must recognise that the protection of vulnerable children is everyone’s responsibility, a Conservative councillor has claimed.
Sir Merrick Cockell is leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Chairman of the Local Government Association. Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Harrogate this week, he told delegates:
“We especially need to get away from thinking that safeguarding is only the responsibility of child protection professionals and the police and realise it is everyone’s,” he said. “In many ways, once it gets to this point [where official intervention is required] it is too late.”
He insisted that Britain has one of the most of the effective child protection systems in the world, and criticised the current management and inspection regime:
“We also have to get away from the model of top-down performance management by different departments trying to drive improvement by pointing the finger and naming and shaming people and organisations. The inspectorates should hold services to account and give parents, professionals, and councillors the information they need to tackle underperformance.”
The current situation would be detrimental in the longer term, he claimed. “This negative model for improving children’s services is driving an exodus of professionals that will undermine, not improve services.”
Improvements should be driven from within children’s services themselves, he declared, and not imposed from outside by inspectorate Ofsted or the government.