A prominent professor of social work has condemned plans to allow councils to opt out of child protection.
Professor Eileen Munro of the London School of Economics conducted an official review of the child protection system back in 2011 and has since been cited by the government as a supporter of controversial plans to allow councils to withdraw from their statutory child protection duties for defined periods, in order to allow consolidation and outsourcing of such services.
The measures form part of the forthcoming Children and Social Work Bill. Although peers voted to remove them in November, the government has since secured the backing of the House of Commons for their reintroduction.
But Professor Munro has now publicly announced her own opposition, in contrast to apparently supportive comments she made last year. In an email to shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck, she suggested that exemptions could pose “more dangers than benefits” and that they opened the door to future misuse.
“While I understand and respect the motivation of the current government, there is a serious danger in having such wide-reaching powers in statute. Some future Secretary of State might use them in ways that are completely contrary to the current intentions and consequently subvert the will of Parliament.”