HL Deb 11 December 1997 vol 584 c54WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What safeguards exist to ensure the accountability of all concerned in social work case conferences, and in particular that the records of such conferences are not incorrectly kept, for example, by recording opinions as matters of fact.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

Working Together under the Children Act 1989, the Government's inter-departmental policy guidance, makes clear the Government's expectations for the recording of child protection conferences. All child protection conferences must have someone whose sole task is to take notes and produce minutes of the meeting. A copy of the minutes should be sent to all those who attended the conference—including parents if present for the whole of the conference. People receiving the minutes are required to draw attention to any inaccuracies. The minutes should be despatched as quickly as possible. If the parent(s) did not attend the whole or part of the conference, they should get a copy of the summary or the full minutes depending on the Area Child Protection Committee (ACPC) policy. Again, parents can comment if they are inaccurate. The quality of the written records is monitored by the child protection conference chair and the line managers within each agency. Ultimately, the ACPC is responsible for monitoring the minutes. Working Together is issued to local authorities as guidance under Section 7 of the Local Government Act 1970. As such it does not have the full force of statute but should be complied with unless local circumstances indicate exceptional reasons which justify a variation.