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Child Abuse

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what changes have been instituted since the publication of the Laming Report to enable the free exchange of information between agencies in child abuse investigations. [127988]

On 19 May, my hon. Friend the then Health Minister, Jacqui Smith launched a booklet for practitioners who have concerns about the welfare of children. "What To Do If You're Worried A Child Is Being Abused" was published jointly by six Government Departments and is aimed at all practitioners who come into contact with children, parents and/or families in the course of their work.The booklet contains a short section on sharing information. This steers practitioners through the process of deciding whether to share information, and if so, what to share and with whom. It explains in a clear and concise way the issues involved in making decisions about sharing information. Copies of the booklet are available in the Library.The Green Paper Every Child Matters and Keeping Children Safe—the Government's response to the Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report and the Joint Chief Inspectors' Report Safeguarding Children were published on 8 September, and copies are available in the Library.The Green Paper sets out proposals for new information sharing systems to enable concerns to be registered at an early stage and flagged up to relevant staff working with children. The Green Paper also explains how front-line workers will become more closely integrated through arrangements such as Children's Trusts.To take forward such information sharing systems, the Government provided £1 million to 10 'Identification, Referral and Tracking' (IRT) trailblazers involving 15 local authorities to test out approaches. We are putting in place a central team to learn lessons and develop a national framework for local information sharing systems. We will have early lessons from the trailblazers by December 2003, and more detailed information by late summer 2004. By the end of 2004, we aim to set out how the lessons from the trailblazers can be reflected across the country. As part of this, the Government will examine the potential benefits and risks of introducing ICT-based information sharing systems at local authority level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to institute mandatory inquiries into unexpected child deaths. [127987]

Paragraphs 117–121 of Keeping Children Safe—The Government's response to The Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report and Joint Chief Inspectors' report Safeguarding Children, sets out the Government's position in relation to recommendations made by the Victoria Climbie Inquiry and the Joint Chief Inspectors relating to Serious Case Reviews and inquiries into child deaths.