Letter: Why children must wait for their holidays

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Why children must wait for their holidaysSir: Polly Toynbee (1 May) asks "Are we being over-cautious?" by suspending our holiday operation for one summer, in order to review all our child protection policies and procedures. I have to answer with an emphatic no.

There is no doubt that there will be many hundreds of disappointed children this summer. The step we have taken is not the easy option but it is the only responsible course of action to take. We have not "fallen victim to a panic about child abuse" but are responding to the advice of child protection professionals who dedicate their working lives to the safety of children.

It is true that nothing is ever 100 per cent risk free. However, we can ensure that as far as is humanly possible everything is being done to minimise the risk. A comprehensive review in partnership with professionally- qualified and experienced consultants will achieve this. The result will be that we will continue next year in a strengthened position with improved safeguards, able to offer many more thousands of under-privileged children holidays for many years to come.

Our volunteers, although naturally disappointed at this year's outcome, support our actions wholeheartedly and are ready to give their loyal and continuing support in 1997. Above all else it is the safety and wellbeing of the children that is of paramount importance to us all.

Bob McKeown

Children's Country

Holidays Fund

London SE1Why children must wait for their holidays