Child protection services “too important to be privatised”
Michael Gove’s recently announced controversial plans to privatise child services, by outsourcing to companies such as G4S and Serco, is meeting growing opposition.
In response, a letter of concern signed by nearly forty seniors and experts hailing from various fields of child protection was written to the Guardian. The letter expresses “considerable concern” should child services be opened up to the market without regulation.
The government believes accountability and responsibility are at the heart of the Working Together to Safeguard Children Act, yet the letter’s authors are concerned that allowing third party companies to bid for business in the child protection sector may be a mistake, noting how the working methods of the suggested third party companies have been anything but virtuous.
“Their track record elsewhere has hardly been unblemished in providing Olympics security, over-claiming payments for tagging offenders, misreporting on GP out-of-hours contract and delaying and denying disability benefits.”
This week G4S and Serco came under fire from The Howard League for Penal Reform after a dossier was published containing incidents in which both companies failed to deliver justice contracts. Due to their previously reported negligence, experts are concerned that the same type of malpractice would continue should their work stretch to encompass child protection services.
Secretary of State, Michael Gove, has previously commissioned a specialist to carry out an independent review of child protection to see, among other things, the effect of corporate bidding on child services.
Headed by Professor Eileen Munro, the Munro Review studied the current systems in place and analysed its downfalls and benefits in order to build a better child-centred system.
In a statement to the Guardian last week, she said:
“It’s a bad idea. It’s the state’s responsibility to protect people from maltreatment. It should not be delegated to a profit-making organisation.”
Although some believe that opening up child protection to third parties would be a mistake, the NSPCC’s director of strategy, Lisa Harker, said it would depend on “how good a service is at turning children’s lives around.”