Children's agencies warn of scandals waiting to happen

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The Independent Online

Children's agencies in Wales have warned of abuse scandals waiting to happen if the Government fails to act to improve child care.

Children's agencies in Wales have warned of abuse scandals waiting to happen if the Government fails to act to improve child care.

They say problems identified in the £12m Waterhouse report into the abuse of children in care in North Wales, are neither peculiar to the principality nor a thing of the past.

Twelve prominent childcare experts, including the directors of the leading agencies in Wales, say staffing problems, lack of suitable placements for children, and poor standards amount to a national emergency.

The group includes the directors of Childline Cymru, Voices from Care, and the Children's Society, and seniorexecutives from Barnardo's and the National Society forthe Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The warning comes as Lancashire police launch another inquiry into allegations of abuse at children's homes.

Almost all of Britain's police forces have investigated or are still investigating claims of child abuse in the childcare system, much of it dating back 10 to 20 years.

More than 30 people, mostly former care workers, have been convicted.

In a letter yesterday, almost exactly six months after publication of the Waterhouse report, the 12 say they are left with an overwhelming sense of lost opportunities.

Catriona Williams, director of Children in Wales, and one of the signatories, said yesterday: "If we don't use Waterhouse, a hugely expensive inquiry, to trigger some definite remedial action that is long-term and sustained, we have wasted the opportunity.''

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