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Net tightens on child abusers

THE Scottish Executive has announced further moves this week to develop a joined-up approach to protecting children.

A "national delivery action team" is being brought together from education, health, social work and the police as part of a three-year programme to promote new measures, including a children's charter and national standards for child protection which will apply to schools.

Jennifer Stark, a pupil support manager with West Lothian Council, is among six secondees.

The group will also look at ways of breaking down barriers between professionals and at the role of local child protection committees.

Peter Peacock, Minister for Education, Children and Young people, acknowledged that "there can be no quick fix".

Mr Peacock said: "If reform is really to make a difference and be sustainable, we need to build on the good work that is already being done, as well as being ruthless in stripping out poor and ineffective practices."

The case of Inverness primary pupil Danielle Reid, whose mother, mother's boyfriend and his brother were convicted of taking part in her killing last month, was the latest to expose deficiencies in the child protection system.

Danielle attended Crown primary in the city. When her mother told the school she would be leaving for the Manchester area, there was no mechanism for checking that she had been enrolled at another school.

Highland Council has since introduced a new form which parents and carers must fill in. The school has to contact social services within 10 school days if it receives no confirmation of the transfer.

But council officials acknowledge that any system for tracking children who move between schools cannot be effective unless it is underpinned by UK-wide legislation. The Scottish Executive is consulting on draft guidance to improve transfer arrangements.

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