WORKING TOGETHER FOR CHILDRENS WELFARE: EFFECTIVE INTERVENTION A RESIDENTIAL CONFERENCE HELD AT CUMBERLAND LODGE, THE GREAT PARK WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE 12th-14th SEPTEMBER 1988 Conference Report by Edna LlewellynThis years theme was Effective Intervention. The recentcases of child sexual abuse have highlighted the need foreffective intervention by all those who have responsibility • The conference urges the Government to look morefor protecting, educating and caring for children. It was closely at the costings prepared by the Family Courtshoped that the formal presentations and the informal Campaign.discussions in the working groups would strengthen the • The conference notes the importance of the role ofunderstanding of the need for intervening effectively and guardians ad litem in acting as the childs represen-produce some constructive guidelines for prevention and tative in legal proceedings and believes that theydetection, and for helping families where abuse has should operate as a wholly independent service.occurred. Nonetheless there is concern about whether the OfficeThe following recommendations were made:- of Child Protection would provide the best setting for guardians and urges careful consultation on this issue,• The conference wishes to emphasize the importance of including comparative costing with a family court. training in the field of child abuse. • Guardians ad litem should consider whether they can • Statutory bodies responsible for training should assist in speeding up court procedures through the identify the necessary levels of training for targeted preparation of statements agreed by all parties to be groups. These include basic competence for all put before the court so that the court can concentrate staff in each discipline, continuing individual and on disputed issues. inter-disciplinary study for those involved in day to day work with families; and advanced inter- • The conference urges the Government to extend the disciplinary study for those working closely to- provision of videolink facilities to the magistrates’ gether, for example in the Special Assessment court as soon as possible. Teams. • Area Child Protection Committees should have re- • It is important that training addresses the needs of sponsibility for identifying the composition of Special the whole family and of the abuser. Assessment Teams which should operate as multi- • Greater recognition is necessary for training in disciplinary groups selected from senior practitioners supervision and management of workers in the field in each discipline to assist with individual cases as of child abuse. Attention must also be paid to necessary. practice supervision during training. • There should be developed codes of practice, similar • Accreditation should be available for practitioners to the codes of practice on access to children in care working in the field of child abuse reflecting and under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, to training and/or special skills. assist practitioners in the processes of investigation, interviewing and assessment.• The conference notes that the Government believes • There is a need to establish schemes to explore the that there is insufficient agreement about the concept potential for the rehabilitation of sex offenders against of a Family Court to proceed in this direction for the children, with or without custodial sentences. These time being. The conference does not agree with this should encourage self-referral and should also provide view and considers that without a Family Court other for the different needs of adults and adolescents. measures can only be regarded as sticking plaster.
• There is a need for early and continuing involvement of parents and children, to ensure that they are con- sulted, informed and counselled as appropriate.• The conference notes the Governments view that progress in work in the field of child abuse cannot be achieved by extra money alone, but the conference expresses concern that development of skilled human resources is hampered by inadequate financial resources.Speakers included:-David Mellor QC, MP, Minister of HealthRupert Hughes, Assistant Secretary, DHSSJim Harding, Child Care Director, NSPCCAnne Bannister, Team Leader, NSPCC and Greater Manchester Child Sexual Abuse UnitEileen Shearer, NSPCC, Rochdale Bury and Oldham Child Protection TeamTerry Simmons, Team Leader, NSPCC and Border Counties Child Protection TeamDavid Fryer, Director of Education, Cornwall County CouncilJane Sloan, Social Work Consultant, Cornwall Social Services DepartmentRay Wyre, Therapist and ConsultantSue Amphlett, Director, Parents Against INjusticeBill Utting, Chief Inspector, Social Services Inspectorate, DHSS.