Child Protection

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 27 February 2003.

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Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour 2:30, 27 February 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what measures it is taking to improve child protection. (S1O-6551)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

Improving child protection and preventing abuse and neglect are key priorities for the Scottish Executive. In response to the recent child protection review, we are engaged in a three-year programme of sustained activity to reform child protection throughout Scotland, which will include the setting up of an expert team to oversee reforms.

Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour

Can the minister assure me that all the agencies that are involved in child protection are committed to effective joint working to ensure that there is no repeat of recent tragic incidents?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I assure Rhona Brankin that all the agencies were brought together at the recent child protection summit, which the First Minister and I held. At that summit, I made it clear that we will seek to ensure that any gaps in current provision are closed. We recognise that agencies must work together, although each has unique responsibilities. We will continue to pursue that joined-up agenda.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

I appreciate that the minister might not at the moment be able to comment on the issue that I intend to raise. If that is the case, I would like her to write to me with an answer to my question.

Concerns have been expressed about the exclusion of smaller voluntary organisations from the work of the child protection committees. Has that issue been raised with the minister? If so, how does she think the problem can be rectified?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

There has already been some discussion of the future role of the child protection committees. I am keen that that role should be expanded to ensure that the committees have the status that they require to do their job effectively. I have committed myself to considering whether the committees should be placed on a statutory footing, but I am not aware of representations having been made in connection with the points that the member raised. However, I will look into the matter and write to him about it.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan Independent

Will the minister ensure greater protection of children's right to pre-school education in the light of recent reports that nearly 9,000 three-year-olds are being denied that right?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

Let me put the record straight: 9,000 children are not being denied pre-school education. The take-up rate for pre-school education is now 96 per cent for four-year-olds and 85 per cent for three-year-olds. It is simply not the case that 9,000 children are being denied that right and I want to put that very clearly on the record.