§ Mr. Sims
To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what circumstances, and by whose authority, children are placed on child protection registers; how many children are on such registers in the London region; how many of these do not have an allocated social worker; what similar figures are available for other parts of the United Kingdom; what are the present legal responsibilities of local authorities towards children on the register; how these will alter when the Children Act comes into force; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
A child's name is normally placed on the child protection register following discussion at a case conference, convened by the social services department or by the NSPCC in areas where this function is undertaken by the NSPCC in agreement with the social services department, when abuse or potential abuse is confirmed and an inter-agency agreement is made to work co-operatively to protect the child. When a registered child moves the child should be registered at once pending the first case conference in the new area.
The latest information about the number of children on the registers in London boroughs who are not allocated to a social worker is published in "Child Protection Services in London, Aspects of Management Arrangements in Social Services Departments, 31 December 1989", together with numbers on the registers at the time at which the survey took place. Copies are available in the Library. Similar information is not available centrally for the rest of England.
The most up-to-date information about numbers on child protection registers relates to 31 March 1990. This information is collected from all local authorities in England and is published in the provisional feedback "Children and Young Persons on Child Protection Registers, year ending 31 March 1990, England". Copies are available in the Library.
Similar statistics covering the rest of the United Kingdom are matters for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, for Wales and for Scotland.
The present legal responsibilities of local authorities towards children on the register are the same general 345W duties as those towards all children under the Child Care Act 1980: to promote the welfare of children and the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, to investigate the possible need for care proceedings and, if necessary, to take them.
When the Children Act comes into force children on child protection registers will generally be children in need and entitled to the provision of services set out in section 17 of the Act, whether or not they are looked after by the local authority. Generally the powers to investigate are greater than before, particularly where there is refusal of access to the child.