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Children: Protection

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what representations he has received on proposals to adopt a child protection approach where a child is involved in gang activity and a younger sibling is at risk of moving into an unsafe lifestyle; (136553)

(2) whether he has plans to address the risk to a younger child in circumstances where an older sibling is involved in gang activity.

The Department has not received any formal representations. Child protection is a matter for local authorities and their partners. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children requires effective co-ordination in every local area. For this reason, the Children Act 2004 requires each local authority to establish a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). LSCBs came into force on 1 April 2006. Their core membership includes local authorities, health bodies, the police and other key agencies providing services to children and adults. The objectives of LSCBs are to co-ordinate local work and to ensure the effectiveness of the work of member agencies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The Government’s statutory guidance “Working Together to Safeguard Children” (2006) sets out their roles and responsibilities including their relationship to the wider children’s trust arrangements.

This guidance also sets out the processes to be followed if there are concerns about a child’s welfare. Firstly, a referral should be made to local authority children’s social care and it should decide whether to undertake an initial assessment to establish whether the child is a child in need. If the child is a child in need under s17 of the Children Act 1989, then the LA should decide what services are required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child and which agency is best placed to provide them.

If there are concerns that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm, then a multi agency strategy meeting—led by local authority children’s social care—should be held to determine whether to undertake inquiries under s47 of the Children Act 1989 and what action is required to safeguard the child’s welfare. If a child is at continuing risk of harm, then a child protection plan would be put in place. Children’s social care and the police, together with the other services are required to work closely together during these assessment and decision making processes.

These processes are used to protect children from different sorts of harm and are flexible enough to be used in a range of circumstances. The Government will of course continue to keep this framework under review.