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Report of the submission to the law commission’s thirteenth programme of law reform consultation: Children's social care

Devine, Lauren; Parker, Stephen

Authors



Abstract

This is a report of our response to the Law Commission's 13th Programme of Law Reform. It summarises our proposal for reform of s.17 Children Act 1989 and its relationship with s.47. Our research has identified numerous problems in practice caused by the policy interpretation of ss. 17 and 47 Children Act 1989. Our data and related investigations indicate that the progressive policy conflation of the two sections has had a negative and detrimental effect on both welfare and the identification of child abuse. See our Working Paper available at http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/25258/ for analysis. We consider the root of the problem to be the post-Every Child Matters policy of early intervention via rationed services. These services are access via assessment, which is also used to risk assess for suspected child abuse. Whilst we support early intervention for struggling families, our findings cast considerable doubt on the 'continuum theory' that family problems justify sometimes coercive interventions to prevent them escalating into abuse. Some key issues are that our data findings indicate that we have a critical system overload where serious cases of child abuse are 'lost' in the same system as requests for support. We propose reform of the underlying legislative provisions in the Children Act 1989 to ensure a clear separation and reversal of the conflation between the consensual and coercive social work intervention.

Report Type Project Report
Publication Date Oct 31, 2016
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Devine, L., & Parker, S. (2016). Report of the submission to the law commission’s thirteenth programme of law reform consultation: Children's social care
Keywords law commission, 13th programme law reform, S.17 children act 1989, rethinking child protection strategy
Publisher URL http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/13th-programme-of-law-reform-consultation/