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Baby P - children’s services working in a ‘climate of fear’

25 May 2016

A study conducted by the University of Central Lancashire has found that social workers are being swamped with reports of suspected child abuse and neglect thought to be as a result of a hyper vigilant and risk averse ‘climate of fear’ created by high profile cases such as Baby P.

The study shows that one in five children born between 2009-2010, over 150,000, have been referred. Last year 87% of referrals required an initial assessment with 25% of referrals leading to a formal investigation and only 9.8% ending in the implementation of a child protection plan.

Professionals are coming under intense pressure to ensure that children at risk are identified. These referrals are becoming a burden for children’s services teams across the country. Social workers are finding themselves wasting time on spiralling investigations of innocent families at a time when they are under increasing pressure from government cuts. This is making it difficult to identify those children who are in genuine danger.

The study highlights how litigation and public opinion are driving social work practice, but not always for the benefit of children truly at risk.

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