For the purpose of this assignment, the area of social work service delivery I have chosen to look at is Child Protection. I will provide a brief overview of the historic development of the service provision and legislation that underpins it in terms of prevailing attitudes, social policy and any other major influences, which I believe to be prevalent. I will examine some of the procedures and practices, which are presently in place and the extent to which these satisfy the requirements of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights. I will also discuss areas in which I believe might present conflicts between the service currently being provided and the demands of the Human Rights Act 1998 and how one of these conflicts might be addressed to make service provision comply with the Act.

”Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm in the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power” Child Abuse Prevention Report 2002.

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Historical Context

As a result of the numbers of prosecutions and complaints to the SNSPCC the Children Act 1908 widened the definition of neglect. The legislative momentum from the 1880’s up to the 1950’s including the Children and Young Persons Acts of 1932 and 1937 emphasised the independent rights of the child to be protected from cruelty and to be safeguarded by the state. The consequences of this approach to child protection were children being boarded out to be rehabilitated or placed in residential care and seen as being problem children. Abrams 1998.

Boarded out children were often viewed as difficult and abuse of these children was seen to be culpable. After WW11, it was recognised that there was a need for a strategic and comprehensive policy in relation to the care and well being of children and the 1948 Children Act was passed. More emphasis was placed on family orientated support work during the 1950’s and 60’s. “Local authorities were urged to coordinate child protection services in order that all possible assistance from statutory services were made available to support families” Abrams 1998, pg. 207.

Since the 1960’s, various reports such as the Kilbrandon report 1964 have influenced the shaping of social policy. The Kilbrandon report identified that children required different care and attention whether troubled or troublesome. The principles of the Kilbrandon report were implemented in a White Paper published in 1966 Social Work in the Community, which also purposed the Social Work Departments would provide support for children’s panels. This moved the locus of the children’s panels from the Education Department to the newly purposed Social Work Departments. McGoldrick 2001.

The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 established professional social work and provides much of the framework of local authority workers while setting down specific duties and procedures that have to be followed in particular circumstances. To protect children from abuse and neglect the 1968 Act placed a ‘statutory duty to cause inquiries to be made and to take action to protect where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm’ Asquith 1993, p4.

Under section 37 of the act, ‘place of safety orders’ could be obtained from a sheriff, which allowed the removal of children on the basis of suspicion. Lord Fraser 1993.

The 1970’s brought the public inquiry of the death of Maria Colwell at the hands of her stepfather, which spotlighted on interest in the treatment of children. A growing awareness of child abuse was being recognised and local authorities were required to establish inter-agency child protection committees and preventative social work was beginning to take form.

The 1970’s brought the public inquiry of the death of Maria Colwell at the hands of her stepfather, which spotlighted on interest in the treatment of children. A growing awareness of child abuse was being recognised and local authorities were required to establish inter-agency child protection committees and preventative social work was beginning to take form.

The 80s/90s brought a series of child protection investigations, which catapulted child protection into the spotlight. The deaths of various children and inquiries into child abuse/protection included;

* Jasmine Beckford, Brent 1985

* Tyra Henry, Lambeth 1987

* Kimberley Carlisle, Greenwich 1987

Reports by Lord Clyde in Orkney, Sheriff Kearney in Fife, Lord Cullen in Dunblane, Rochdale, Edinburgh, and Ayrshire were influential in changing social work practice.

‘Lord Clyde’s report made 194 recommendations, suggesting considerable reform in the procedures of child protection, children’s hearings and social work training’ Tisdall et al 1999 p28

As a result of the above deaths and inquiries, the impact of child protection services were intense and policies and procedures placed the responsibilities on all professionals in the field of childcare for the management of child protection and child abuse.


One significant duty the local authority has, is to protect and promote the rights of children. The general assembly of the United Nations adopted the convention on the rights of the child in November 1989. The Convention is an important move forward as for the first time, all children’s rights have been written down in one document. The UK ratified the UN convention in 1991. The preamble to the convention recognises that children have the right to special care, protection and assistance. The Convention provides a set of international standards for individuals, states and social workers.

The UN convention was very influential in the final drafting of the CHILDREN SCOTLAND ACT 1995. This is now the main legislative framework from which social work practitioners operate and derive their roles and responsibilities and duties.

Article 12 UN Convention emphasises the child’s right to participate. However the majority of children and families receiving social work services are victims of poverty, deprivation and discrimination. Scott 2002 p306, suggests ‘Their movement is restricted, out of fear and mistrust, within aims to protect…the child experiences such differences and inequality at first hand, and learns that rights are contractual, that the child is not a citizen, a rights holder, but a citizen to be, with role models all around and that civic ‘participation’ depends on consent by adults. Cleland et al 2001,p257. argues ”that the way forward is to give children a political voice at the highest level with the creation of an ombudsman to ensure impartially when challenging government policy on matters relating to children’s rights.

The introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 also ensures that children now have legal rights.

The Human Rights Act 1998 places responsibility on local authorities and public authorities to reflect rights outlined in the European Convention of Human Rights and the rights of citizenship should be guaranteed under this obligation.

Conflicts- in practice research indicates that ‘looked after’ children experience disadvantage in all areas of their development….quote…children scoltand act underpinned best place with family- if experiencing abuse or neglect at home FAILURE TO ACT. To accommodate may breech Article 3… inhuman treatment… lack of foster carers… lack of residential accommodation. …..


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