Child protection red tape to be cut


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The Independent Online

Hundreds of pages of instruction manuals about child protection are to be replaced with more precise guidance in an attempt to reduce the burden of red tape on social workers, under new proposals announced by the Government.

Children's minister Tim Loughton said the planned overhaul would help groups involved in safeguarding children including teachers, youth workers, police and social workers to carry out their work without being hampered by unnecessary bureaucracy.

The move comes after Professor Eileen Munro published a review last year saying social workers should be freed from Government red tape to allow them to focus on children's needs. She also said local areas should have more freedom to design their own child protection services, moving away from the "one-size-fits-all approach".

Under the plans unveiled for consultation, the Government has proposed that three guidance documents, totalling 68 pages, will replace more than 700 pages of bureaucracy.

Mr Loughton said: "We want to change the child protection system fundamentally - I believe the changes proposed today will free hardworking social workers and other professionals from structures, procedures and rule books so they can do their best for vulnerable children and their families.

"This is a new mindset and a new relationship between central Government and local services.

"I am determined that we build on the excellent work of Professor Munro and I trust the workforce to deliver the reforms without the need for excessive central prescription."

Last month, Prof Munro, whose report was commissioned after the death of Baby Peter, said a "culture change" was under way in the child protection system but there was an urgent need to accelerate progress further.

Commenting on the proposals, she said: "This draft guidance is proof that reforms are rightly moving the focus of help and protection firmly onto children and young people.

"We are finally moving away from the defensive rule-bound culture that has been so problematic. I believe an urgent culture change in our child protection system is now under way."