By Ian Toone, Director of Policy and Research Services
We are pleased that the Government has decided not to introduce mandatory reporting at this stage. Although we agree that what is in the best interests of children should be paramount, mandatory reporting is likely to result in a rise in false allegations and would flood the system with reports of trivial incidents, threatening the capacity of the system, creating bottlenecks and resulting in serious cases being lost in the mass of reports. We also expressed concern about scapegoating - where front-line workers are made to take the blame for management failures.
We agree that recent reforms in safeguarding practice need time to become embedded rather than introducing more innovations before the previous ones have been tried and tested.
We are pleased about the recommendation to improve multi-agency working, as this was also one of our recommendations. Communication and effective collaboration between all the relevant agencies are critical to the safeguarding of children.
Whilst we are not against further revisions to statutory guidance and a review of the legislative framework, we believe that most failings are the result of human agents rather than the system in which they are operating (although regular monitoring and review is needed to ensure that the system remains robust, relevant and fit for purpose), so we welcome the proposal to improve training and accreditation for practitioners.
However, we still have concerns over the variable quality and regularity of the available training. We believe that training would be improved by multiagency input (rather than being provided solely by independent consultants), and that graded qualifications and refresher training are needed according to role and responsibility.
We are pleased to be named in the report as one of the respondent organisations and welcome the fact that the main highlights of the Government's response align with our views.