Child protection checks still a cause for concern

Recruitment procedures and arrangements for checking that employees are suitable to work with children are still inadequate, a government report has claimed.

The joint inspectorate report on safeguarding children warned that checks on recruitment agency staff, contractors and staff from outside the UK, and the rechecking of existing staff through the Criminal Records Bureau, were still inconsistent.

The report, by the chief inspectors of the eight public services working closely with children, also warned that physical control was used inappropriately and too often in young offender institutions, secure training centres and secure children’s homes.

The inspectors said staff in these settings lacked training about how to avoid causing injury when using physical control, and called on the government to issue a single set of principles for when the use of these methods would be appropriate. The checking of staff working with children has been in the spotlight for a number of years.

Cases such as the death of Victoria Climbie, who was killed by her carers after social workers ignored warning signs, and Ian Huntley, who murdered two schoolgirls after being given a job as a school caretaker despite having faced allegations of rape and sex with under-age girls, have exposed weaknesses.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said improvements had been made in recent years. “We have come a long way since the Victoria Climbie inquiry, with greater accountability and [more] safeguards in the system than ever before,” he said. “But there is still more to do.”

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