The Impact of the Baby Peter Case on Applications for Care Orders

Anne Wilkin, Ruth Hart, Shona Macleod, Jennifer Jeffes

09 June 2010

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Following the death of Baby Peter Connelly in August 2007, the government took steps to review the effectiveness of arrangements for safeguarding children in England, which led to the publication of the Laming Review in March 2009. The Local Government Association (LGA) commissioned the NFER to look at the impact of the case of Baby Peter Connelly on local authorities’ applications for care orders and child protection more widely. This research was conducted between August 2009 and March 2010 and involved two phases:

  1. An online survey of Directors of Children’s Services in England.
  2. In-depth case-study work in six local authorities.

LA staff are broadly optimistic about the future for child protection and safeguarding activity. Most welcome the findings of the Laming Review, in principle. However, this is tempered by a view that the degree to which they can make changes depends on a range of workforce developments and resourcing issues. They point out that significant investment in additional resources is needed to implement many of the review’s recommendations.

Key Findings

  • There is clear evidence to indicate that the levels of care applications made by English local authorities (LAs) rose in the wake of the Baby Peter case.
  • The impact of the case on English LAs has varied in its range and intensity.
  • LA staff perceive the Baby Peter case as significant and responsible for both a marked decline in morale and the increased communication of child protection concerns by the public and partner agencies.
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