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Our response to Lord Carlile's review of the Edlington case

16 November 2012

Earlier today Lord Carlile published the second report into the Edlington case, in which two young boys were tortured by two brothers in 2009.

Responding to Lord Carlile's review, Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, said, "There are thousands of troubled families facing a host of complex problems who could reach crisis point if they don't receive the right support at the earliest possible opportunity.

"Intervening early is essential - and we know from our work in communities across the UK that the lives of families, and particularly children, can be successfully turned around to stop them from reaching breaking point and overwhelming local authority children's services departments.
"But action needs to be taken now. More than half of social workers and over a third of police officers have told Action for Children that they feel powerless to intervene at early signs of neglect.
"The government must ensure that vital services which support vulnerable children and families at the earliest possible stage are invested in, and professionals are enabled to work fluidly together, to effectively protect children and prevent neglect."

Action for Children is calling on the Government to urgently update the antiquated child neglect law, as today's review highlights the current law's failings.

The current law - drafted in 1933 - is dangerously out of date and out of step with current civil legislation, hindering the ability of police and child protection agencies to work together fluidly to intervene with families like those of the Edlington brothers. 

Our proposed amendment, which is being spearheaded by a number of leading peers including Baroness Butler-Sloss, former Chair of the Cleveland child abuse inquiry, would simplify the framework of the criminal law, making it clearer and aligning the thresholds of intervention with civil law.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, former President of the Family Division of the High Court and Chair of the Cleveland child abuse inquiry, added, "This case review is a stark reminder that an updated child neglect law, like the one Action for Children and I are calling for, is urgently needed.
"The current law is nearly 80 years old and does not fall in line with civil legislation and the practices of local authorities. Most importantly, as we have seen in the Edlington case, it is stopping police and child protection agencies from working together effectively and from making clear, consistent and coordinated decisions.
"Sadly we may not have seen the last of these kinds of cases, but we can help prevent the circumstances that lead to them which is why we are urging the Government to reform the law as soon as possible."