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Vulnerable children need early action

25 February 2013

Today's response by the Government to the Education Select Committee's report on child protection has missed crucial opportunities to help neglected children, according to leading children's charity Action for Children.

Despite recommendations by the Government's own advisor, Eileen Munro, the Education Select Committee and from charities including Action for Children, the Government have refused to introduce a statutory duty upon local councils to provide early intervention services. Such a duty was recently introduced by the Welsh Government and Action for Children is calling on the Westminster Government to do the same for neglected children in England.

 The Education Committee also recommended to Government that it update the criminal law on child neglect, given the law is 80 years old and dangerously out-dated. Leading academics, experts and parliamentarians including Baroness Butler-Sloss, have all supported Action for Children's campaign to change the out-dated law on child neglect, yet once again the Government have not taken action.

Action for Children's Director of Public Policy Helen Donohoe commented:

"At a time when there is such a broad consensus that early intervention is the best way to tackle neglect, it is disappointing that the Government has failed to take the necessary steps to support this in law.

"With as many as one in ten children at risk of neglect in the UK, action is desperately needed to ensure the UK's vulnerable children get the help they need. Families need help as soon as problems arise to stop their cases becoming more serious, and their children more vulnerable.

"An early help duty, plus the reform of our arcane criminal law on child neglect, are two easy steps that would help vulnerable children. I congratulate the Welsh Government, who recently published proposals for an early help duty and call on the UK Government to now do the same."