Friday 27 Nov 2009 @ 09:18
Protection for vulnerable young people is to be helped by an enhanced nationwide helpline.
Major improvements to a national helpline that enables the public to report and help stop the abuse or neglect of young people were announced by Children's Minister Adam Ingram today.
The 24 hour Child Protection Line will in future be staffed by qualified child protection professionals rather than trained call handlers, who after an initial professional assessment will be able to give an informed referral to the relevant local services.
The helpline will remain open in its current form until a new provider is appointed.
The changes follow a rigorous independent evaluation of the line, by York Consulting, as promised when it was launched in February 2007. The evaluation confirmed the need for a national helpline and highlighted the fact that a promotional campaign early last year prompted an increase in calls. However, the report also concluded that the line as it currently stands, does not fully meet the needs of the public and services or provide value for money.
Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, said:
"Child protection is a top priority for this government. However, we know that it's not laws that keep children safe, it's people. That's why it is vital, if people have concerns that they speak out and this line helps them to do that.
"The independent evaluation has given us a clear picture of how the service is operating we will work towards bringing about change that will maximise the help available to those at risk.
"Meanwhile, we will continue to pursue all practical measures to make our child protection systems and processes as good as they can be, and crucially, tackling the root causes which underlie the rising number of referrals into the Child Protection System.
"We are doing this through the Early Years Framework and associated social policies such as the Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach, which is being tested in 10 local authorities and is already showing positive results for children in Highland and Islands."
The 24 hour Child Protection Line offers a single number for people to share concerns and find out about local services. For almost three years, members of the public have been able to call the confidential freephone number - 0800 022 3222 - to speak to a trained operator.