The Child Protection System in England

Written evidence submitted by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)


1. This is a time of major reform in child protection, early intervention, the social care workforce, the health service, the Police and the family justice system, as set out principally in the Munro Review of Child Protection, the Allen Review, the Health and Social Care Bill, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, the programme of the Social Work Reform Board and the ongoing Family Justice Review.

2. The NSPCC has commented on these developments as they occurred [1] ; while this submission is informed by evidence we provided to these reviews it is neither possible nor appropriate to reiterate it all here. Our submission is also informed by a series of roundtables held during September 2011 to consider the areas of particular concern to the Committee.

Early help

3. The NSPCC's recent report on the prevalence of child abuse found that a substantial minority of children and young people are severely maltreated at home, in school and in the community, from both adults and peers: 1 in 17 (5.9%) children aged under 11 years, 1 in 5 (18.6%) young people aged 11-17 years and 1 in 4 (25.3%) of young adults aged 18-24 had experienced severe maltreatment in childhood. [2] This is thus an issue of major proportions, yet a majority of these children never come to the attention of children’s services. At 31 March 2011, there were 42,300 children with a child protection plan, 379,300 child in need and 736,400 episodes of need through the year. [3]

4. Early help is vital for optimising children's chances of good outcomes when they are at risk of, or experiencing, abuse and more can be done to identify the children most in need of help. ‘Early help’ can refer to intervention early in the life course; prior to the onset of a problem; and/or as early as possible after the identification of risk. All are important for children. During a period of fiscal constraint, it is even more vital that practice and interventions are evidence-based. There is a big gap between what we know to be effective and current practice, which is not necessarily evidence-based. [4]

5. Early interventions should be time-limited and have clear measurable goals to enable assessment of a family's progress and whether the intervention is working or whether other work is needed. Without this, a family can continue receiving support that might be ineffective, children might continue to be at risk, opportunities for successful timely interventions lost, and resources used inefficiently. Successful evidence-based early intervention programmes include the Family Nurse Partnership, the use of video-interactive guidance and 'Minding the Baby', which the NSPCC is trialling, and will be the first programme in the UK to combine support from social workers, nurses and mental health experts ( see Appendix ).

6. Evidence-based practice is as important, if not more so, than evidence-based programmes, and easier to take to scale as it can be embedded into the day to day work of practitioners, whilst new programmes can be harder to 'fit' into existing systems and structures. However, professionals are very stretched, so it is important to help them to reorient their practice to new, more effective ways of working without over-burdening them.

7. Key to early help is giving practitioners skills and knowledge about evidence-based practice through: supervision; continued professional development; giving them time/resources/incentives to read and research the latest practice and developing learning sets. Initial training could also emphasise the importance of practitioners keeping in touch with the latest research, and suggest ways they can do this.


8. There should be clear responsibility at local level for ensuring that there is support available to families who do not meet the thresholds for care. This support should be sustained even at a time of spending cuts, as early help can save expenditure on more expensive interventions required once problems have become very serious.

9. Given the prevalence of child abuse, there is a need at a societal level far more widespread public information about the crucial importance of early child development, and for public education to emphasise that simple changes in how parents relate to their young children can bring permanent benefits. [5] This should be an element of any government programme for tackling the harmful effects of poor parenting on the scale required.

Assessment and referral

10. An integral element of providing early help is good assessment and decision-making. Munro has identified unnecessary bureaucracy and guidance in child protection, including current assessment processes, as impeding professionals' ability to exercise their professional decision-making and judgement. However, good assessment is less about prescriptive versus non-prescriptive practice than about how to improve the quality of professional decision-making.

11. Research [6] has identified the following factors which affect decision-making:

· Poor organisational culture and lack of support for the professional to have time for the reflection and analysis needed for a proper assessment;

· Unclear terminology/definitions for professionals from different fields impeding the ability to accurately discuss children and families;

· Barriers to information-sharing within and between agencies;

· A focus on process and meeting guidelines rather than allowing professional judgement to have weight in a decision, inhibiting discussion between professionals with different areas of expertise;

· Technology that impedes rather than enhances decision-making;

· Lack of services and/or a lack of effective services to which to refer children and families.

12. There is considerable debate about what is the best method to use in child protection assessment, [7] and a wide range of assessment tools have been developed in an attempt to move to evidence-based practice. Many of these have been promoted to provide a more rigorous, analytical approach to assessment, but there is little evidence to show which tools are most useful. When evaluating an assessment tool it is important to consider whether it will work for all families, and takes into account factors such as disability, culture and ethnicity.

13. Assessment tools should guide practitioners' clinical judgement, and help them to organise and enhance their decision-making. [8] Professional judgements should be based on evidence-based theories and knowledge.

14. It is vital in child protection work that all assessment and intervention processes are informed by the child's developmental timeline. Effective assessment, whatever tool is being used, relies on the professional having a good knowledge and understanding of child development, in particular attachment theory and neurological development. Key to both is an understanding of the nature and effects of poor parenting on early brain development and thus on children's current and subsequent emotional/social, intellectual and behavioural development.

15. Yet this knowledge is not routinely included in pre-registration training for the majority of professionals who work with children, nor is it a routine element of continuous professional development. [9] If practitioners lack specialist knowledge, they should have access to other professionals with more understanding of child maltreatment theories and the impact on the child of factors such as disability of the parent/child or being in a Black and Minority Ethnic family.

16. Practitioners must also be able to engage and communicate effectively with children and young people, and maintain a core focus on the child themselves, as Munro has emphasised, [10] yet this remains a significant gap in practice. In its 2008 evaluation of serious case reviews OfSted reported a 'failure of all professionals to see the situation from the child’s perspective and experience; to see and speak to the children; to listen to what they said, to observe how they were and to take serious account of their views in supporting their needs.' [11] Three years later this is still an issue: '... the child was not seen frequently enough by the professionals involved, or was not asked about their views and feelings...agencies did not listen to adults who tried to speak on behalf of the child and who had important information to contribute.' [12]

17. Professionals also require good quality supervision to assist them in assessing a case and reaching appropriate decisions. It can also reduce their anxiety about a case, and increase their professional confidence in practising their discipline within a theoretical framework. Supervision also helps them to reassess a case without bias when new information is presented - a critical factor in good assessment, which is not a single act but a continuous process. [13]

18. There are three key gaps in assessment practice which require particular attention. First, there is no rigorously validated and consistently applied model for pre-birth risk assessment in the UK, making it likely that opportunities to prevent poor parenting and abuse are thus being missed at this very early stage.

Second, professionals must be able to assess parental capacity to change within the child's timeline, and the parents' ability to relate to their child. Recent research by Ward et al on infants at risk of significant harm found that most parents, if they are going to make positive changes in caring for their children, have done so within six months. [14] This has important implications for practice.

19. Third is the assessment of neglect, which remains the largest category of abuse for children with a child protection plan and presents particular challenges for professionals, in part because of its cumulative effect. It is questionable whether professionals have sufficient understanding of the impact of neglect on a child's development to assess it appropriately; they can struggle to know what to do when they have concerns, often overestimating the parents’ capacity to care for their child and the child’s resilience to harm. As a result, too many children are left in situations of serious neglect. Brandon et al argue that in neglect cases social workers can fall into the trap of ‘start again syndrome’, where practitioners lose the history of a case by focusing too much on the present problems and issues. [15]

20. To help improve the quality of assessment, the NSPCC is testing and seeking to add further benefit and local applicability to models which promise better outcomes for children who have been abused, including: the New Orleans Intervention Model, the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale and the Graded Care Profile (see Appendix for further details).


21. Focusing improvement on workforce skills and development, pre-birth risk assessment, assessment of parental capacity to change and professional assessment of neglect would assist early intervention and court decisions about children's welfare. In addition, clinical supervision should be separate from day-to-day management and resource issues.

22. A forthcoming DfE-commissioned report on assessment tools by Professor Jane Barlow of Warwick University will provide greater understanding of the available assessment tools and their efficacy. We suggest that the Committee considers the results of this review before finalising its recommendations relating to assessment.

Thresholds for care

23. There were 65,520 looked after children at 31 March 2011, an increase of two per cent from 2010 and nine per cent since 2007. [16] There has been much debate about whether enough children are being brought into care, yet this is not an issue which can be resolved by setting targets: there is no 'right' or 'wrong' number of children who should be in care. Rather, professional practice and the child protection system must be competent to skillfully assess and be properly responsive to children's needs and capable of providing the care they require, whether this is within the nuclear family, the wider family or outside it, either temporarily or permanently.

24. There is clear evidence of the benefits that care can provide, and studies show that outcomes for looked after children are often better than for those who remain in damaging family situations; there is thus a need to tackle the widely held belief that care is damaging to children. Care should be used as part of the continuum of provision for children requiring help, and regarded neither as negative, nor as a measure of last resort.

25. At the heart of this debate is an inevitable and emotionally difficult tension between enabling children to be brought up by their birth family until maturity, and the moral and legal imperative to protect them if living with their birth family is causing them significant harm. Inherent in child protection therefore is a need to balance parental rights against those of the child.

26. Our child protection practice and the family justice system are informed by three key principles enshrined in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989: the parmountcy principle, which establishes clearly that the child's welfare is the court's paramount concern; that any delay in proceedings is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child; and that an order shall be made in respect of the child only if doing so is better for the child than making no order. Their importance has recently been reaffirmed by the Family Justice Review, and is consistent with international human rights instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified by the UK government in 1991, Article 3 of which establishes that all decisions affecting children's lives should be made in their best interests. To ensure this is the case, we believe the Committee should consider the need for the balance of rights to be reconsidered to ensure that children are protected from harm.

27. There is significant concern about whether children who have suffered, or are suffering, from abuse or neglect are coming into care early enough to optimise their chances of recovery from their damaging experiences. There are many instances of children being taken into care too late but little indication that authorities are taking children into care too easily; research consistently finds that authorities are acting appropriately [17] , [18] , [19] , and a Cafcass evaluation of the increase in s31applications following the case of Baby Peter Connelly found that they were either ‘appropriately timed’ or should in fact have ‘been brought to court earlier than they were.’ [20] , [21]

28. Indeed, it has been suggested that ‘where allegations of serious harm are concerned, the threshold ought to be lower [22] and that high thresholds for entry into care in the UK have resulted in a looked after population characterised by a ‘high concentration of disadvantage’, which consequently leads to ‘poor outcomes overall’ [23] and contributes also to a misperception of the care system itself as not being good for children.

29. It has been acknowledged that at present the courts ‘have done their utmost, in light of human rights commitments, to set a high bar’ in terms of satisfying the test for removal. [24] Concern has been expressed that the interpretation of this test ‘has made it extremely difficult to obtain the interim removal of a child from their home’, and that the local authority ‘has to prove a prima facie case not just of significant harm but something greater and more injurious’. [25] High thresholds therefore result in children and families with substantial, chronic problems and high levels of need failing to receive timely help. [26]

30. We need to ensure our system is responsive and able to meet the needs of all children. However, at present, it is extremely difficult to demonstrate heightened and imminent significant harm in cases of cumulative neglect, emotional abuse and domestic violence [27] , and prolonged delay is particularly likely to occur in cases of neglect and emotional abuse. Plowden noted in his review of court fees that "the major area of uncertainty concerns chronic cases of children at long-term risk of neglect… The judiciary are strongly of the view that ... social workers can wait too long before initiating proceedings." [28] Gardner found that in cases where the criminal threshold for neglect was either not met or a conviction not pursued, recurring incidents just below the 'significant harm' threshold were often not recorded and considered for their cumulative effect as meriting intervention under the Children Act 1989. [29] We have commented above the implications of this for assessment.

31. There is also evidence to suggest that professionals may spend too long working to enable the child to remain with their parents at the expense of the child's need; indeed, the Children Act 1989, while being clear about the child's needs being paramount, also requires practitioners to work in partnership with families. This work is a critically important part of providing a continuum of support to children and their families but clearly should not be at the expense of meeting the child's needs within appropriate developmental timelines. However, there is some evidence that the challenge in 'provid[ing] a system which strikes a careful balance between protecting children and respecting family life, whilst ensuring that the decisions made are fair and proper' [30] may sometimes result in children being left in harmful situations for too long, possibly in part also to satisfy Article 8 concerns about the right to family life. The Family Justice Review interim report stated that 'a common complaint [in evidence submitted to the review] was that even where there is robust evidence from recent proceedings that parents would be unable to care for a child the court will insist on starting assessments afresh. The implication is that this is needed to assure the parent's rights'. [31]

32. Care needs to be seen as part of the spectrum of family support and should have greater capacity to provide flexible packages of support to enable children and their families to thrive. Further development of services is needed to ensure a smooth transition into and out of care, without 'cliff edges' in the support provided, including when children are reunified with their families.


33. There is clear evidence of the support that care can provide to children who are suffering abuse and neglect. More needs to be done to create a flexible and responsive system that protects children from harm and enables children to enter care when that support is needed. Consideration needs to be given to whether our child protection system, including the family courts, places too much importance on the rights of the parent, over and above the rights and needs of the child, which in turn affects professional judgement and decisions around the use of care, prolonging the harm suffered by some children.

Role of non-social work agencies

34. Effective multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working is vital to protecting children from harm. Currently, significant structural changes are affecting child protection practice, which itself must continually evolve to respond to new child abuse challenges, such as sexting and gang cultures. It is important that all professionals understand their role in protecting children, and that practices and structures support this.

35. However, this is arguably more difficult in the current climate. The government, while accepting the need for a broad national policy framework, favours local determination of policy priorities. Central guidance is being reduced and structures dismantled; local authorities are no longer required to have a Children and Young People's Plan, and there is no requirement for local areas to have children's trust arrangements, though they can choose to do so.

36. In scaling back national guidance on child protection, it is important to retain the clarity of the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance, which can facilitate accountability for child protection, whether of individual professionals, or of local or national government. Careful consideration must also be given to ensuring that a reduction in guidance does not undermine the ability of Local Safeguarding Children Boards to achieve appropriate levels of co-operation and participation of different agencies in child protection.

37. It is a major challenge to ensure that children and their safety are accorded the priority they deserve during change and restructuring. The comment in the Family Justice Review Interim Report that: ‘The public law system is under severe strain. The cumulative effect is that the paramount interests of the child can too often be buried under the weight of process’ [32] could as easily apply to the difficulties of maintaining sufficient health service focus on child protection in the context of new commissioning arrangements and overstretched designated and named doctors for child protection, some of whom are being required to cover multiple primary care trusts. We have commented in more detail on issues affecting health in our joint submission to the Committee with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.


38. We recommend that the Committee is attentive to forthcoming inspection reports and urge it to monitor the impact of current reforms and fiscal constraint on the effective protection of children. The inspection of police, health and children's services will become an increasingly important lever for maintaining a focus on children and their protection as current reforms and the new localism take effect.


For further information please contact:

James Bury

Public Affairs Officer


Tel: 020 7825 2853



NSPCC 'Minding the baby' service

‘Minding the baby’ will support young, vulnerable first-time parents to care for and protect their baby in the first two years of its life.

We will provide support and guidance to the most vulnerable families to establish good parenting and keep babies safe from harm.


Supporting young mums and dads who are struggling to cope with parenthood is one of the best ways to stop child cruelty before it starts and gives babies the best possible chance in life.

What happens?

The NSPCC plans to work with 320 families in four areas in the UK, over five years. The ‘Minding the Baby’ programme will be offered to first-time mums aged under 25, who are struggling with problems such as depression, homelessness, poverty, or violent relationships.

Local NSPCC workers and nurses will carry out regular home visits with new mums, dads and other family members to provide an intensive programme of support. These visits will start three months before the baby is born and continue until they turn two.

New parents will be provid ed with practical support like feeding tips, help with housing or financial advice. We will give additional support to mums and dads who are struggling emotionally, as babies are more likely to suffer abuse or neglect if their mums have poor mental health.

Why will it make a difference?

‘Minding the Baby’ will be the first service in the UK to combine support from social workers, nurses and mental health experts. The programme was developed at Yale University and has shown promising early findings, including better bonding between mother and child.

The NSPCC will share our learning with governments and ultimately want to roll out the programme with others so that every baby has the chance to grow up healthily and develop normally; lov ed , protect ed and safe from harm.

NSPCC testing of models for improving assessment and decision-making

1. New Orleans Intervention Model (NIM)

NIM is a cutting-edge intensive assessment and intervention programme the NSPCC is testing to inform court decisions on whether maltreated children can be reunited with their birth family or be placed for adoption with their foster family.


Courts must make the right decisions on where abused and neglected children should live, and parents and children must get help as soon as possible. Many children suffer long-term damage to their mental health because they are not helped swiftly enough. Young children, in particular, are deeply traumatised by abuse and separation from their families and homes. More harm is caused if they are moved frequently between foster families or sent back to situations of abuse and neglect.

What are we doing?

NIM was developed in the USA. It is a cutting-edge way to help professionals consider whether children can be reunited with their birth family or placed for adoption with their foster family. The service will initially be implemented in Glasgow in partnership with Greater Glasgow Local Authority and NHS Glasgow. NSPCC social workers will be part of professional team looking at the quality of children’s relationships with birth parents and with foster carers. The team will assess and work with 170 abused and neglected children under five years old, every year for two years, focusing on children who have been removed from home because of abuse or neglect.

How will this make a difference?

This programme could make a lasting difference to abused and looked-after children in the UK. Children assessed by the New Orleans Model in the USA were less likely to suffer abuse or neglect when they were returned to their birth families, or more likely to settle in well with a new foster family.

We will test this model to help courts make better decisions about where a child should live, whether it will reduce the risk of repeat abuse or neglect for the subject child or a subsequent child being maltreated, and ensure stability in children’s lives.. If successful, it is envisaged that the model will also be used to inform family court decisions in England and Wales.

2. Evidence-based Decisions for Children in Complex Neglect Cases

This is a pioneering new approach which the NSPCC will test with local authorities to help social workers make effective decisions in child neglect cases.


Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment suffered by children in the UK.

Social workers are often confused about how to intervene in child neglect, and neglected children often remain at home without appropriate support or decisive intervention. Without early intervention the effects of neglect can be extremely damaging and can last a lifetime.

What will happen?

Pairs of NSPCC and local authority social workers will visit 1,240 neglected children at home. They will use the tool to look at how the family functions. The workers will see families at least three times to inform local authority decisions about what interventions are needed to keep the children safe from neglect.

If the case has not been closed after three months, the social workers will review the parents’ progress to inform local authority decisions about what further intervention is needed to keep the children safe.

The NSPCC will test the tool in five local authorities over two years.

How will this make a difference?

The tool we are testing is called the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS-G). It has been used successfully in the USA, Canada and Australia. This is the first time it has been fully tested in the UK.

This tool has been shown to improve the way social workers interact with families, how they gather and analyse information, and how they make decisions. The tool does not require lengthy reports. Therefore social workers can spend more time with children and families.

We aim to roll out this tool to more local authorities. We hope it will be supported by local and national governments across the UK. We will share what we learn in the UK and across the world to protect the most vulnerable children and keep them safe.

3. Graded Care Profile: A national evaluation of a tool for assessing the care of children and identifying potential and actual child neglect

The ‘Graded Care Profile’ is a tool the NSPCC is testing that will improve the lives of neglected children by helping social workers to identify neglect.


NSPCC research shows almost one in ten children have suffered parental neglect at some point in their childhood. More than one in a hundred has suffered severe physical neglect.

Social workers often struggle with child neglect and don’t always know what to do when they have concerns. They often overestimate the parents’ capacity to care for their child and the child’s resilience to harm. As a result, too many children are left in situations of serious neglect.

Delays in identifying neglect and getting help to children can lead to serious injury or even death.

What will happen?

The Graded Care Profile is used to assess how well children are looked after.

We are speaking to local authorities to find out how widely the Graded Care Profile is used in the UK, and how it is being used.

NSPCC social workers will test the tool on 400 cases of possible neglect in 10 areas in the UK over two and a half years. The social workers will see if it offers a good way to assess whether children are being neglected. They will also look at whether it helps make the children’s lives better.

We will work with Local Safeguarding Children Boards and health, education, local authorities and other agencies to test the tool.

How will this make a difference?

The NSPCC hopes to develop this tool so it can be used across the UK to improve the lives of neglected children.

We will share our findings with other professionals and organisations such as Local Safeguarding Children Boards, health, education and police professionals, as well as with governments across the UK. If the tool is successful, we will promote its wider use to keep more children safe, healthy and well-looked after.

November 2011

[1] Available on

[2] Radford, Lorraine, Corral, Susana, Bradley, Christine, Fisher, Helen, Bassett, Claire, Howat, Nick and Collishaw, Stephan (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today . London : NSPCC, available at:


[4] Little, Michael (2010 ) "Improving children's outcomes depends on systemising evidence-based practice..." Proof Positive. London : Demos.


[5] Centre for Excellence and Outcomes, Grasping the nettle: Early intervention for Children, Families and Communities , available at:

[6] Peckover, S., Hall, C. and White, S. 2009. From policy to practice: the implementation and negotiation of technologies in everyday child welfare. Children & Society 23(2): 136-148.

[6] Bell, M., Shaw, I., Sinclair, I., Sloper, P. and Rafferty, J. (2007) The Integrated Children's System: An evaluation of the practice, process and consequences of the ICS in councils with social services responsibilities , Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, York.

[6] White, A. and Walsh, P. (2006) Risk assessment in child welfare: an issues paper. Centre for Parenting and Research, Ashfield, N.S.W. : and

[6] Gambrill, E. and Shlonsky, A. (2001). The need for comprehensive risk management systems in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review , 23(1), pp. 79-107.

[7] Munro, E. (2008) Lessons from research on decision-making. In: Lindsey, Duncan and Shlonsky, Aron, (eds.) Child welfare research: advances for practice and policy. Oxford University Press, New York , NY; Oxford , UK , pp. 194-200 .

[8] Shlonsky, A and Wagner, D. (2005). The next step: integrating actuarial risk assessment and clinical judgement into an evidence-based practice framework in CPS case management, Children and Youth Services Review 27: 409-427 ; Ereth, J., Johnson, K. and Wagner, D. (2003). New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department: Foster Provider Risk Assessment Study. Children's Research Center . ; Fuller T. L., Wells S. J. and Cotton E. E. (2001). Predictors of maltreatment recurrence at two milestones in the life of a case. Children and Youth Services Review, 23(1), 49-78. Munro, E. (1999) 'Common errors of reasoning in child protection work', Child Abuse and Neglect, 23 (8) 745-758.

[9] See Social Work Taskforce (July 2009), Facing up to the task: the interim report of the Social Work Taskforce, London : Department of Health and Department for Children, Schools and Families; NHS Education for Scotland (2011), Core Competency Framework for the Protection of Children. 2011, Edinburgh : NES and RCPCH (2010), Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competences for Health Care Staff. Intercollegiate Document, London : Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

[10] See Munro, E. (2011). The Munro Review of Child Protection - Final Report: A child-centred system. London : Department for Education.

[11] OFSTED (2008) Learning lessons, taking action: Ofsted's evaluations of serious case reviews 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. London , OFSTED, available from:

[12] Ofsted ( 2011 ) The voice of the child: learning lessons from serious case reviews A thematic report of Ofsted’s evaluation of serious case reviews fr om 1 April to 30 September 2010, available from:


[13] See Munro, E. (2011). The Munro Review of Child Protection - Final Report: A child-centred system. London : DfE. ; Munro, E. (1999) 'Common errors of reasoning in child protection work', Child Abuse and Neglect , 23 (8) 745-758 and Farmer, E. and Owen, M. (1995). Child protection practice: private risks and public remedies. London : HMSO ;

[14] Ward, H., Brown, R., Westlake , D. and Munro, Emily R. Infants suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm: A prospective longitudinal study, DfE Research Brief (October 2010), available at:

[15] Brandon et al (2008) Analysing child deaths and serious injury through abuse and neglect: what can we learn?

[16] DfE: Children Looked After by Local Authorities in England (including adoption and care leavers) - year ending 31 March 2011 , available at:

[16] )

[17] Masson, J., Pearce, J., Bader, K., Joyner, O., Marsden, J. & Westlake, D. (2008) Care Profiling study, MoJ Research Series 4/08. Ministry of Justice: London .

[18] Dickens, J., Howell, D. Thoburn, J. & Schofield G. (2007) ‘Children starting to be looked after by local authorities in England : an analysis of inter-authority variation and case-centred decision-making’, British Journal of Social Work , 34(4): 597-617.

[19] Schofield, G. and Ward, E, with Warman, A, Simmonds, J. and Butler , J. (2008) Permanence in Foster Care: A Study of Care Planning and Practice in England and Wales . (133 pages). London : BAAF.

[20] Cafcass (2011) The Baby Peter effect and the increase in s31 care order applications . London : Cafcass.

[21] This is consistent with the SSI’s overview of 31 inspections of Children’s Social Services in 1999-2000 ( Adams , 2001) which concluded that whilst there was striking variability in the quality of services they inspected, there was no evidence to suggest children were coming into care inappropriately.

[22] Turney, D., Platt, D. Selwyn, J. & Farmer, E. (2011) Social work assessment of children in need: what do we know? Messages from research , London : DfE.

[23] Rowlands, J. & Statham, J. (2009) Numbers of children looked after in England : a historical analysis, Child and Family Social Work , issue 14: 79-89.

[24] Bainham, A. (2011) ‘Interim Care Orders: Is the Bar set too Low?’, Family Law , issue 4 (4) (April 2011): 374-381.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Biehal, N. (2005) Working with Adolescents, Supporting Families, Preventing Breakdown . London : BAAF.

[27] Op cit at notes 14 and 15.

[28] Plowden F (2009) Review of Court Fees in Child Care Proceeding s . M inistry of Justice, available at:

[29] Gardner R, Developing an effective response to neglect and emotional harm to children , UEA/NSPCC 2008 , available at:

[30] Family Justice Review Interim Report (March 2011), Ministry of Justice, Department for Educatio n and Welsh Assembly Government, para 4.11.

[31] Ibid, p ara. 4.71.

[32] Family Justice Review (March 2011), Interim Report , para 4.56 , available at:

Prepared 11th November 2011