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Lord Laming criticises Tory plans to scrap children's trusts

Date:12 APR 2010

Lord Laming has criticised plans by the Tory party to scrap some of his key proposals on child protection should they win the election.

Earlier this month in an interview with Children & Young People Now, Michael Gove, shadow secretary for children, schools and families, said that the law that set up children's trusts - brought in the wake of the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié in Haringey - only "added to bureaucracy" by placing a "duty to co-operate" on police, schools and social services.

Lord Laming's report on the death of Victoria Climbié in 2003 recommended services for children and their families be better integrated. Following the green paper Every Child Matters, the government, through the Children Act 2004, required local areas in England to introduce children's trusts.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Lord Laming said: "We know from all the dreadful things that happened before what the result is if services do not collaborate. We are not working to increase bureaucracy. But agencies after an event always say, 'If only we knew', and that is why they should sit and share information.

"The way governments work is to put these arrangements on a statutory footing. Otherwise, people will not put this into day-to-day practice. If there's a better way of doing it, then fine. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Lord Laming also criticised Tory plans to scrap the legal requirement for every local authority to publish a joint children and young people's plan by April 2011.

"What people who live in Whitehall don't realise is that children across the country are not all the same. People will talk about the needs of young people without ever taking a comprehensive view of what it is like to be a young person in that area," Lord Laming said. "That's why we need the plans to be published."

In October 2008 the Audit Commission concluded that the too much time and energy was being expended on "structures and process" arising from children's trusts and that there was "little evidence of better outcomes for children and young people". A third of directors of children's services surveyed by the Commission said that the purpose of the trusts was "unclear", and the uncertainty was hampering their efforts to deliver better services.