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Understanding the importance of the Child Protection Register by Liz Davis Exclusive

16th Dec 2008 | in Child Protection


The Child Protection Register was abolished in April this year following
Lord Laming’s recommendation in the Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report. Child
Protection Conferences were the meeting where the decision was made about
registration.  These conferences are still held and decisions are made by
a range of professionals about whether or not a child needs a child
protection plan to keep them safe from ongoing risk of abuse.  This
conference must consider the needs of all children in the family and
household. Professionals from the child’s school, health services, police
and social workers as well as specialists such as child psychiatrists,
probation officers, drug and alcohol counsellors attend where they have
information or expertise to contribute.

The category or categories of abuse are specified – neglect, physical, emotional or sexual.
Parents and carers as well as young people commonly attend the conference and take a
key part in the plans made to keep the child safe.  About 96% of children
subject to child protection investigation remain in the care of their
families so this process is an important means of carefully confronting
the issues and working out how to make sure the child/ren are protected.

Children and parents attending can have an advocate present throughout the
conference. After an initial conference the review conference takes place
after 3 months and subsequently every 6 months until it is decided that
the child/ren are safe or if the protection plans have not worked and
legal safeguards need to be in place.

So what is the difference between a child ‘subject to a plan’ and a child
whose name is on the Register?  Superficially it may seem that there is
not much difference. However, the decision to register was always a very
serious one. It was not a legal process but the courts gave a lot of
weight to the decisions made. Professionals knew that placing a child’s
name on the register was a very complex and important decision to take. I
don’t think the same weight will be given to a ‘plan’ and the probability
is that more children will be provided with child protection plans than
previously were registered and the high risk children will be lost amongst
high numbers of less serious cases.

It was sometimes said that parents felt stigmatised by the registration
process. Yet the research focussed mainly on the parents rather than the
children’s views. Confronting and challenging parents is never going to be
an easy process however sensitive and competent the professionals
involved. The researchers needed to ask whether the abused children valued
the process and felt safer as a result.

In the 5 years prior to 2007 the numbers of children’s names on the
register for physical and sexual abuse halved. The government had devised
performance targets for registration. For example, children had to be
visited regularly and reviews take place on time. At a time of staff
shortages the pressure was for managers to reduce the numbers of children
registered in order to more easily meet these targets and get their star
ratings. It was widely known that children’s names were removed if they
were seen to be old enough to look after themselves, were said to be
placing themselves at risk , were abused by people external to the family
or if they were already in care. Therefore some high risk children, who
would in the past have been the subject of registration,  were already
being denied the multi agency working provided by the process.  Even if a
child is in care there may be risk from an abuser during contact
arrangements and child protection procedures may need to run alongside
those protocols for children in care.

Studies of serious case reviews over the years have shown that very few
children whose names were on the register died or were seriously harmed by
abuse. Most children harmed were those who were not known to the
authorities at all or who were referred by defined as children in need of
services rather than children in need of protection from abusers. There
was no doubt that the Register was an essential part of a system that
protected abused children.  Yet, in answer to a parliamentary question, a
government minister recently stated that the register was abolished on the
basis of no research at all. If the ministers had been studying the
findings of hundreds of serious case reviews they would have certainly
retained this essential system which is widely understood and recognised
not only by staff in all agencies but also by the public.

When a child’s name was on the Register an immediate alert went to police
and hospitals if a child came to their notice. These police officers and
doctors would then check with the social worker or the police child abuse
investigation team and make decisions informed by background knowledge.
Since April this alert system is no longer in place throughout the
country, although in London, and possibly in other areas, it has been
retained so that children who are the subject of child protection planning
are still flagged up on the police and hospital systems. Where this is not
in place, instead of an alarm drawing attention to high risk children, the
professionals have to check every single child against the database to see
whether or not they are known to children’s services and then make a call
to see if that child is the subject of a child protection plan. To busy
police and doctors this clearly is unworkable.

State interference with family life has to be justified. After all, most
parents care for their children very well and professionals do not need to
be involved in their lives. When parents abuse a child there is
justification for professional involvement in order to respect and uphold
the child’s right to be safe from harm.  The Child Protection Register was
a clear and effective procedure for working with parents to keep their
children safe or for making decisions to take legal safeguards where
children need to be removed from their families. I have no doubt that
children will be less protected as a result of this disastrous change in


  • On 16th Dec 2008 at 08:01 PM michaelmac said...

    I agree Liz, We need the register

  • On 16th Dec 2008 at 10:33 PM Teresa said...

    People are going to ask didnt victoria and baby p die whilst the child protection register was still active and used? Yes so why did it fail them?

    The children listed as dead on no2abuse died when the child protection register was in effect used? Most of these cases are prior to the abolishment of the CPR

    Are most dying because they are not recognised as being abused, ignored, not being recognised as being at risk when they are in contact with social workers and the communication problems between all departments?

    Why are the NSPCC cropping up regularly in cases of failures to children at risk and why are they regularly involved in forced adoptions where the evidence shows in many cases the parents were wrongly accused or their children taken that werent at risk?

    What is the NSPCC’s role with social services? given they seem to be cropping up where children all over are being failed which shows this isnt just social workers and their seniors needing to address failures.

    It would be great to blame it on social workers when others are clearly also failing children and shouldnt be.

  • On 11th Mar 2009 at 11:08 PM Liz said...

    Victoria Climbie’s name was never placed on the child protection register. However Baby P’s name was. The child protection conference, where the decision is made to register the name, is only as good as the investigation that informs it. Baby P case went wrong at the stage of investigation with police and social workers working in different directions.  Just because a procedure does not work once isn’t a reason to get rid of it. Since the government decided to get rid of the register its use diminished. the numbers for physical and sexual abuse halved in the five years prior to 2007. Because of performance targets it was easier to get star ratings for an authority if the register was kept low because then each child would be more likely to have an allocated social worker and a child protection plan regularly reviewed. The abolition of the register means that the meeting does not get full attendance now as the meeting has a lower status than before. Also the conservatives did a survey of hospitals and found that 288 did no longer get the alert when a child had a child protection plan.

  • On 12th Mar 2009 at 12:24 AM Teresa said...

    Thats very informative grin

    It would be good to see more information on how the system is supposed to work from those within it and the sad part is we dont see enough from professionals as they write within their system or the media dont put out enough when professionals do wish to speak up. Doctors, NSPCC, legal reps and police fail children as much as SS and yet they seem to be less highlighted when things go wrong? Why are the social workers directly in it and yet the other professionals seem to drift into the background as if they werent also responsible?

    Thankyou for that information Liz and we look forward to your interview which I hope will show people what its like on the inside because there is a serious lack of information and stories from within a system that is now in chaos and how it affects people like yourself and the trainee students grin

    People want to know

  • On 5th Dec 2009 at 01:44 PM Carol said...

    My Grandchildren have been the subjects of a Child Protection Register for 3yrs. 3mnths.  My Grandchildren are 4 and 7.  They did not have an allocated Social Worker for 14month after the initial meeting and Socail Services told us that they could not implement the Child Protection plan due to lack of staff and resources.  My Daughter has done everything that they have asked for from the beginning.  The last straw was this year when they insisted on my daughter having a parenting assessment.  Upon this information they said they would make decisions.  Care proceedings have been mentioned for around 18months now.  The assessment was totally unreasonable even though my daughter stuck to it.  Many of the comments in this report are untrue and unfounded, but the bottom line is that S.Services are unable to support my daughter in continuing long term care for her children. We are not allowed to dispute this report which is unfair.  We had a Family G. C. which took place after we received the parenting assessment report.
    We decided at that meeting that my husband and I, having been totally involved with the Grandchildren would care for them.  We now have to undergo an assessment.  Social Services failed so many times in implementing any plan that they put forward at Case Conference Meetings.  We were advised to comply with all of their wishes because they have a lot of power.  This is not right.  The children are not abused or neglected.  If S.Services really believe that they are or have been then why has it taken this long, also why has my daughter still got custody, care and control of her children.  We as a family believe that we have been treated unjustly, and have been picked on.

  • On 14th Jan 2010 at 05:42 PM rachel said...

    i really dont agree with social services they have took our son off us for nothing we have had a really hard time last year and to start this year got broken into and i crashed the car on ice. i dont agree with how they work they never keep to anything we dont even have a social worker atm cos ours has left and hes in a child protection plan. im sorry but if they werwe trying to help they would try and work with the parents and not remove the child. our son it 7 months old we have lost all bond with him and they dont care. they really dont care about the relationship between parents and children and how vital it is. if anyone has any thoughs or advice please comment. we are thinking of going for legal advice cos they have no evidence at all. i completly agree with carol they dont treat you well at all

  • On 22nd Feb 2011 at 12:08 AM Mrs AmyLouise Hudd said...

    both my children have ended up on there through precaution ONLY. its absaloutly ridiculous how we are all paying for the negligance of social services is the case of baby p and cases like it.
    i love my children very much and we have had numerous core assesments with glowing comments from everyone involved on how we are with our children there is never 1 bad point in the core assesment but yet my poor children are still on the child protection register,

  • On 5th Oct 2011 at 09:15 AM natalie said...

    I agree with these comments, I am due in a conference today, for a decision if my two children should go on the register, because an ex partner which I have been banned from seeing got accused of a crime he did not commit. there is no evidence and its all as precaution. I have split with him and no longer see him as I was told I must do to keep my children. there are no concerns about me and the only issues they have is with my ex who is no longer around so I don’t see why my children need to go on the register, hope they don’t but we will see. they just try to ruin peoples lives when they know nothing !

  • On 3rd Nov 2011 at 12:15 PM jodie said...

    i totally agree with your comments.. social services do not work with the parents at all.. my daughter was placed on the register a few years back.. they said it was for neglect.. i was out working and had a very close friend babysitting. i worked long hours to try and make a better life for me and my daughter.. i quit the job and did everything they asked me to do and she came off the register. now im having to go to meetings again because i started a relationship with a man who has been to prison in his past for violence.. my daughter has a very good bond with this man but social services are telling me i have to cut all contact or they are going to stick my child back on the register even though he has never harmed a child in any way.. i think its totally unfair how they treat people.. making me feel like im doing something wrong or that im a bad mum… my whole life is dedicated to my daughter and i would never put her at risk.. there are a lot of children out there who are abused daily and i think its wrong that use their time to target parents like me when they could be helping children in very bad situations!

  • On 10th Nov 2011 at 05:46 PM levi said...

    I am due to have a conference next week and would like some advice or comments ex partner has caused domestic violence to myself on 2 occasions whilst my children have been in same property.Social worker has done an assessment which makes it look worse than what it actually is.My ex and i get on most of the time until this forthcoming conference.Have they got rights to say dad cannot come to the family home and help me with the day to day duties of looking after 4 young children

  • On 18th Nov 2011 at 05:20 PM amy hudd said...

    absaloutly what comes first your children or your relationship, trust me when i say you have to be whiter than white, if your serious about your relationship with him quickly take steps to get him on a anger managment course! move him out of the house for a while until he completes the course! do this and show that your willing to take any steps to ensure the safety of ur kids, i am not posh in fact im as comman as they come lol but i know these people and luckily we got rid of them but its un likely u will unless both you and your partner will unless u take steps like i suggested! please email me if any more advice is needed we were thrown around the system and i dont like it but i know all about it my email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or add me on facebook same name xxx

  • On 12th Dec 2011 at 10:30 PM luliea said...

    ive been in conference today n feel crap n worthless as a mum ! yes theyre doing their job thoroughly after their lack of care in the past but come on yes sometimes we as parents get it a little wrong in some cases really wrong but dont tar everyone with the same brush as all the monsters out there x if they stepped in my shoes for a day they would know that it can be a struggle with 3 year old twins !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • On 20th Dec 2011 at 11:30 PM louise said...

    Social services first came in to my life 5yrs ago because they said my husband was hitting my son. The first social worker we had lied to us and insisted he had to stay at a relatives until they had done their assesment. I sought legal advice who advised me as I had not signed anything they had no rites to say this, Thus I took him home and the problems started. They accused me of being difficult because I no longer trusted a word they had to say, we had a different social worker every 6 weeks and on one occasion early on the nice lady said “she felt very sorry for me as I would be in for a lot of difficulties with them” after which she moved abroad. I left my husband and he sought custody of our other children and because of my new partner having convictions for violent crimes (not against women or children) the social services backed my husbands case (they seemed to forget they were there because of his supposed actions). Since then the stress they have put on me has manifested in my rapidly detering health. They are now starting care proceedings. My care and parenting has always been praised, my children never had problems at school when with me and in fact were top and very close to top of their classes, yet now they are below average. I like many others believe as a result of the cases of the children they have failed they come down on families that they should not. They have a job to do which is protecting vunerable and abused children and I fully support them in that, at the same time I get slightly annoyed that they are spending valuable time on me when there are children who need their assistance (MINE CHILDREN DO NOT)and some of these children are being missed. Therefore I say be as clear as you can and follow some if not all of my advice so you can get to live a happy life with your children sooner and they can then focus on those who need. 1)Seek legal advice straight away 2) put evrything in writting and ask for things to be put in writting 3) take notes whenever you speak with anyone involved with your child(ren) 4) If something is in writting you dont agree with write a letter to have it corrected or your version put alongside (do this straight away) 5)Ask them what they expect from you 6) Before all meetings/conferences write down your questions or a statement (as you are usually pre occupied with everything else) 7)Think about how they can support you i.e parenting, education, therapy, and ask for the help, be clear about what you need

  • On 30th Jan 2012 at 04:07 PM simone said...

    I think the social workers are ludicris vindictive human beings who through there own lack of experience and emotional baggage they then take this resentment out on other happy families.

  • On 6th Feb 2012 at 01:20 PM kath bleach said...

    i have been on a care plan for two years (my son is now 3years) because my ex said i was fabricating ill health on my son. I have had five social workers since then and have done everything that they wanted and still no prospects of coming of this plan as they have hit a brick wall with it all. i really need help to get this sorted as i fear losing my son who has genunine health development problems

  • On 7th Feb 2012 at 09:19 PM amy hudd said...

    i am so sick of hearing parent’s being bullied by social services! makes my blood boil! now first thing is to see a solicitor if you cant afford it you should be elidgable for legal aid and there is nothing wrong in that and seek there advice as 9 times out of 10 they are right and they can put letter together and force them into a decision of closing the case down if they are not doing anything constructive then they should close the case simple as that, so see a solicitor asap!! and try and see a private specialist in child development but this will cost maybe a few hundred at the most for the appointment and the assessment but you have proof to shove in there faces to be blunt! and that is what you need to arm your solicitor with you need all the ammunition you can get with these people but DO NOT under any circumstance be seen to be playing dirty as they can demand you do all sorts to parental classes to monitoring your parenting at home! then your solicitor cant fight back if they are doing assessments they cant close the case to get a private development assessment go to your gp and get a free garunteed referal letter and say you want it to take your son to a private specialist to make sure development is ok due to your issues they cant refuse and use any means neccassary to pay for it either yourself family friends loan! it needs doing you need to prove what you think is true! 07966338336 anything else give me a text or a call good luck! x

  • On 17th Feb 2012 at 05:48 PM gill said...

    I am due to go to a hearing on wed because i had a male friend in my house who has a history with his ex, he never hurt me or my children and he was only a friend now my stupid ex has took it upon him self to say he feels they r at risk so now have social services all over me like a rash, i have told this friend i can no longer b friends or have him anywere near my house will this help at all? i am worried to death about this its making me so ill please can someone advise me what will happen xx

  • On 19th Feb 2012 at 01:26 AM amy hudd said...

    it will help if its true you can also keep a diary of your day to day life just normal stuff what kiddies are doing playing eating tea etc and then fill it in where you have been who with and just keep it just incase you got to another hearing see if you can get a few letters together of family and friends a character statment and take them with you just a few lines of wether they think you would put your kids at harm knowingly and are you a good mum etc and read them out or ask someone to read them for you as everyone will be asked to give an opinion on you and your children so why cant people that love and know you give there’s we did this and it worked well, chin up hun give me a email if you need anything .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) xxx

  • On 23rd Feb 2012 at 01:15 AM rebecca said...

    Ss workers are nobheads most the time, they don’t bother to help families, coz it cost far to much,  they say if u work with use ur child has a better chance of gettin of the list, Ye my bum, they say this to try make u fail frist chance they get they will take ur child, they don’t care to them its there job. Fu**in nobs, they make mothers and fathers so low, an like u are a shit mum, dad well keep ur chin up Dnt let them win..

  • On 28th Feb 2012 at 09:22 PM James said...

    Some parents on here appear to need some independent social work advice / assessments.  This service is available but there can be charges. 

    I am not really into the social work ‘bashing’ theme, they do a very complex job and remember they are there because of the vulnerability of children , not the needs of parents

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