HC Deb 19 February 1959 vol 600 cc523-5
20. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many child-care officers are employed in the United Kingdom; and what proportion of them have received special training for the work.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

Of the 1,200 child-care officers estimated to be employed by local authorities in England and Wales, it is believed that about a quarter have received special training leading to the award of the Certificate in Child Care and that about half the remainder have other social science qualifications.

Mr. Swingler

Is not this a rather unsatisfactory position after ten years of the

minute and a half to read. I thought that it would be fair both to the hon. Member and to the House if they were to see it; then, when the hon. Member has seen it, he might either care to pursue the matter with me or to put down a further Question. I am only too keen to encourage recruitment to the prison service.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Has the Home Secretary discussed the whole question of recruitment and the standard that he requires with representatives of the prison officers?

Mr. Butler

I have not personally discussed it, but it has been discussed by my representatives.

Following is the Answer:

operation of the Children Act? Cannot the hon. Lady do something further to recruit more people to this work and should not special steps be taken to raise the proportion of those who receive proper training and have qualifications for it?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

As the hon. Member pointed out, it is ten years since these courses were instituted. There are many officers who have been with their local authorities more than ten years. One should not assume that they are unqualified because at the time they entered the services these precise qualifications and examinations were not available to them.

22. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many child-care officers are employed in Staffordshire and what proportion of (hem are unqualified; what is the ratio per 10,000 of the child population; and how these figures compare with those for the counties of Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, and Warwick.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The Answer involves a table of figures which, with permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Swingler

While thanking the hon. Lady for the table, which, I guess, will show a fairly high proportion of unqualified officers in these counties, may I ask this question? Whilst, clearly, a large number of the unqualified officers are valuable and highly experienced people, nevertheless should not her Department now take more urgent steps to offer the opportunity of modern training and qualification to the high proportion of those in child-care service who do not at the moment have the training?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

Every encouragement is given to officers to avail themselves of the training. Generally speaking, however, there is a tremendous demand on people with an inclination for this type of work and in many of the areas we are, in consultation with the local authorities, endeavouring to get more people into the service. There is certainly no lack of willingness on our part that, where suitable, the officers should gain the qualifications.

Following is the table:

County Council Number of child-care officers employed on 31st December, 1958 Number of child-care officers per 10,000 of the population under the age of 18
Staffordshire 17 0.7
Derbyshire 10 0.5
Nottinghamshire 20 1.3
Leicestershire 8 0.8
Warwickshire 8 0.5

The figures do not include children's officers their deputies or assistants who are employed mainly on administrative or supervisory duties.

There is no prescribed qualification for child-care officers. It is for the local authority concerned to appoint staff with suitable training and experience, and comparisons between the position in different areas cannot usefully be made.