The government set up a statutory inquiry led by Lord Laming, into the events that surrounded her death’ (Laming, 2003) and reached the conclusion that the tragedy could have been prevented if there had been intervention early enough2. The Victoria Climbie Report also corroborated the findings on earlier inquiries that showed a failure to intervene early enough. Notably, the Report identified the following weaknesses in service:
There has been strong opposition to the system of child protection in the UK, questioning the extent to which intervention by practitioners can be ascribed legitimacy, therefore the system operational within the UK was classified as a residual model with fierce public opposition to intervention.4 As a result, social workers and early years practitioners tended to focus upon actual cases of abuse rather than adopting a preventive stand to protect children, which led to a limited intervention policy.
On the other side of the coin, there was outrage at the tragic deaths of children, where “ineffectual intervention by incompetent social workers”5 was perceived to be the cause of failure to provide adequate protection to children. This resulted in an increased focus on the identification and prevention of child abuse and neglect, which has shifted the focus of the debate on highlighting the needs of children.
In the UK, the Children Act of 1989 states that in any provision or decision made by the Courts, “the child’s welfare shall be the Court’s paramount consideration.”6 This Act places the responsibility on Councils with Social Service Responsibilities (CSSR) to safeguard the welfare of children in their area.7 In Scotland, a similar degree of importance has been attached to the ascertainment of the child’s views, wherever possible.8 The Children Act (Scotland) regulates family relationships and also clearly sets out the duties and powers of local authorities and other agencies in regard to child welfare and protection. UK’s .ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, prevention of abuse and assistance in recover. together with making the child’s interests paramount, have become a primary consideration for Scottish society/