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Daniel Pelka - more of the wrong children are being taken into care

I have for some time been raising concerns that the wrong children are being taken into care. The threshold for removing a child into care is at times so low that the system gets clogged up with cases where intervention is wrong.

I made this point after the death of Peter Connolly. If you look at the trends in terms of numbers the numbers subject to care orders increased dramatically after his death. However, cases like Khyra Ishaq and Daniel Pelka continue to occur.

In the mean time the government and Martin Narey put as a priority increasing adoptions rather than preventing children from dying as a result of abuse. I personally think that is wrong. It creates an environment in which experienced social workers are fired if they believe that in an individual case a child should be returned to its parents.

My own view is that we should reprioritise the care system into protecting children first and foremost rather than satisfying government targets (or statistical pressures). I made the point in the ministerial office that it is not possible to make proper decisions from Whitehall. The decisions need to be made on the ground.

Here are the numbers of under 5s (Baby P - Peter Connolly, Daniel Pelka) taken into care since 1995.

1995 3,800
1996 3,900
1997 4,100
1998 4,700
1999 4,900
2000 4,700
2001 5,100
2002 5,300
2003 5,700
2004 5,700
2005 6,000
2006 6,200
2007 6,200
2008 6,100
2009 6,600
2010 7,500
2011 8,200
2012 8,700
Are children any safer now that more than twice the number of toddlers are taken into care than was the case in 1995?

(The statistics relate to the years ending 31st March, they include only children compulsorily taken into care and come from the SSDA903 return and apply only to England).

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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