The Care Inspectorate today launched a major report into how well children in Scotland are protected from risk, with findings from a programme of child protection inspections across Scotland.

 The three-year inspection programme aimed to see how well services in each of Scotland's 32 council areas are protecting vulnerable and at-risk children from abuse, neglect or exploitation. Senior inspectors from the Care Inspectorate carried out the joint inspections with colleagues from the education and police inspectorates. As well as looking at the work of professionals charged with protecting children, inspectors assessed seven themes related to keeping children safe, including children who go missing, management of sex offenders, and internet safety. 

Inspectors praised a number of improvements compared to the previous inspection programme. They found that leadership and co-operation to protect children are strong, that staff are confident about raising concerns, and there is more action to protect particularly vulnerable groups of children.

The report also concludes that there is room for improvement. Inspectors found there was too little contact from social workers with children who just missed the threshold for being on the child protection register, or who had just come off it. They recommended faster intervention when parents cannot meet their children’s needs, and - when it is clear that a child cannot return to their home - more effective progress should be made to find a secure, permanent place for them to live. The report also calls for services to ask more challenging questions about their own performance to ensure they make a difference to the lives of children.

The report was presented to children’s minister Aileen Campbell MSP on a visit to the North Inch Community Campus in Perth today. Perth and Kinross Council scored the highest number of “very good” and “excellent” gradings in the report.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell MSP said: 

“The safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s children is a key priority for the Scottish Government. All children have a right to be cared for and protected from harm, and to grow up in a safe environment in which their rights and needs are respected.

“I want Scotland to be the best place in the world for children to grow up and I am pleased to see from this report on the second round of joint inspections that significant progress has been made in child protection. However, we cannot be complacent, we all have a role to play in keeping children safe and progress must continue to be made on this important matter.”

Care Inspectorate Chief Executive Annette Bruton said:

“Child protection is a difficult and sensitive area but it is everybody’s business to make sure that our children are safe. Abuse, neglect and exploitation often happen in secret, so people need to know that different professionals are all working together to spot signs and minimise risk.

“No system alone can guarantee that tragedy will never strike, or exploitation will never occur, but there is encouraging news from our report. While there is room for improvement in some areas, it is clear that leadership across different agencies is stronger now than when we last carried out this work four years ago.”


Notes to editors 

The report is published here.  

The first round of child protection inspections ran from 2006-2009. This current round ran from 2009-2012. The Care Inspectorate assumed responsibility for the programme in April 2011. Future scrutiny of child protection will be undertaken as part of the new, broader programme for joint inspection for all children’s services, which started in Autumn 2012 and which will look at each local authority area in Scotland.