AS chairman of Cheshire social services I welcomed the Government's plans for a national inquiry into child abuse in childrens' homes - something Cheshire County Council has urged for some time.
I hope we will have the opportunity to give evidence at an early stage in the inquiry so we can highlight the good practice here which has led to successful prosecutions of people involved in child abuse. Successful prosecutions are essential if child abuse is to be stamped out - and anything which prejudices those prosecutions is to be deplored.
Much as I welcome your newspaper's desire to see paedophiles removed from contact with children, I fear your exposure ("300 victims in secret child sex scandal", 9 June) may well have quite the opposite effect.
For the cases pending around the country, including several involving Cheshire people, your article may well be considered to have reduced their chances of a fair trial and therefore result in cases that should be brought before the courts being dropped.
It is for this reason that Cheshire County Council is scrupulous in its handling of allegations of child abuse in homes outside its control around the country, in the same way as we are dealing with any allegations about our own homes.
There has been a legal requirement imposed on us by the courts that clearly states nothing must be done to identify, or possibly identify, any of the children or their alleged abusers. The court's word is good enough for us. For the sake of the children, we hope it is for you, too.
Social Services Committee
Cheshire County Council
The British Association of Social Workers is extremely concerned about the child-care sex scandals you have highlighted. The Prime Minister agreed last week to a public inquiry to look not only at the Cheshire situation but at the national picture. Further steps are urgently needed.
We need much better systems of accessing criminal records to screen out the very few unsuited and even potentially dangerous social work students. In addition, children who have been or are still in care, some of whom may have been sexually abused or physically assaulted, must have access to independent advocacy.
These safeguards and others are required to restore public confidence in the vast majority of staff who do a fine job.
British Association of Social Workers, CambridgeReuse content