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Social policing or social welfare? : a study of justice, power and partnership within the initial child protection conference.

University of York
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  • Design
  • Law


DX195999_1_0001.tif SOCIAL POLICING OR SOCIAL WELFARE?: A STUDY OF JUSTICE, POWER AND PARTNERSHIP WITHIN THE INITIAL CHILD PROTECTION CONFERENCE MARGARET ROSE BELL Thesis submitted for degree of DPhil, University of York, Department of Social Policy and Social Work. March 197'7 ABSTRACT The initial child protection conference is an interagency meeting held to consider an allegation of child abuse, and to decide whether or not the child should be registered 'at risk'. In line with the principles of parental responsibility, participation and partnership underpinning The Children Act 1989 and other legislation, parents are involved in the child protection investigation and the conference. Their involvement has been largely welcomed by the families and professionals, but a number of issues of principle, policy and practice are raised. A central dilemma concerns the degree to which the rights of parents to be involved in decisions about their children might conflict with the child's right to be protected. There are other difficulties. In undertaking the child protection work social workers have to consult different interests and perform contradictory and ambiguous tasks. They are required to balance care and control within the context of limited resource provision and fear of public scandals if they get it wrong. The basis on which the child is registered is not clear to the parents as it has no legal authority, and the families are often traumatised by the experience. The question arises whether it is possible to combine a procedure designed to classify risk with an attempt to work in partnership with the families. This study explores the effect of involving parents on the conference process, on the decisions and recommendations made and on the views and experiences of the professional and families involved. It is based on a research project undertaken in 1991 to 1993 in a Northern industrial city to evaluate their pilot scheme to involve parents. The design involved comparisons

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