Child safety ‘revolution’ sought

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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A “revolution” of child protection systems is required to end a culture of drift, fudges and excuses, Yvette Cooper will say as she unveils measures to pursue offenders.

Labour is pledging to establish a child protection unit jointly run by the Home Office and Department for Education should it be in government after May’s general election.

The unit would aim to improve standards in all agencies involved in keeping children safe and bringing abusers to justice, including earlier intervention and encouraging information-sharing between police and others, the party said.

Shadow home secretary Ms Cooper will also pledge a series of child protection measures would be brought in by a Labour government i f MPs decline to add them to the Serious Crime Bill today.

Labour says these include attempts to make it easier for police to prevent an adult from contacting or communicating with a child if there is evidence of abuse, sexual exploitation or grooming, and to launch criminal proceedings if this is ignored.

In a speech in London, Ms Cooper is also expected to warn police and social services are overwhelmed – which is resulting in officers not investigating serious crime reported to them.

The “same kinds of mistakes” made with care home abuse and Jimmy Savile in the NHS are being repeated in connection with online abuse, Ms Cooper will add.

On the proposal for a child protection unit within government, the Labour front-bencher will say: “There is a terrible gap between the scale of the problem and the strength of our collective response – a terrible gap between the abuse and harm caused and the response from government, the authorities and society.

“We need a sea change in our attitudes, a revolution in our systems of protecting children. No more drift, no more fudge, no more excuses.

“Child abuse is a terrible abuse of power – an abuse of the power adults have over children, to groom them, exploit them, harm them and silence them.

“We need to make sure every child matters and every child is heard. And we need to go further. Challenging the sexism and class prejudice that means exploited teenage girls are just dismissed as prostitutes.

“Challenging the homophobia and stigma that makes it hard for abused teenage boys to ask for help.

“Challenging the racism involved in the exploitation of girls in Rotherham as well as the way community and cultural excuses were used not to pursue exploitation and crime.

“It has to become a major priority with leadership from across government – with more support for children, stronger prevention, stronger protection and stronger pursuit of criminals to bring them to justice.

“We will set up a new child protection unit between the Home Office and Department for Education, also drawing on Health, Communities and Local Government and Justice to drive changes needed.”

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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