Headlines: November 16th, 2006

ROLE FOR PRIVATE SECTOR IN CHILD PROTECTION INVESTIGATIONS

A private sector company is to take over responsibility for the Independent Investigation Service available to help school governing bodies in Wales when they have to deal with child protection allegations against members of staff. Meanwhile educational establishments In England are to get stronger guidance on the safe and responsible recruitment of teachers and other staff.

In Wales responsibility for setting up and running the Investigation Service will be with Dream Group Ltd, a leading supplier of outsourced policing solutions and services in the UK. The move is part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s response to recommendations made by the Children’s Commissioner in his Clywch Inquiry Report.

Since September governing bodies of all maintained schools in Wales have a legal obligation to appoint an independent investigator to look into all child protection allegations. Governing bodies are not legally required to use the Assembly Government’s Independent Investigation Service, but they can do so without charge. If they opt to appoint their own investigators any costs incurred will be charged to the schools’ delegated budget.

Meanwhile in Whitehall the Department for Education and Skills has published “Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education”. This guidance makes clear the responsibilities that schools and colleges have in safeguarding pupils and students from adults who might be trying to get employment in those settings with a view to harming children and young people. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary-of-State for Children, Young People and Families Parmjit Dhanda, said the safety of children and young people was a top priority and schools and colleges had to make sure they carried out the appropriate checks on new members of staff. This single piece of guidance was designed to support them in doing so.