Only 25% of reports were formally investigated while 10% led to child protection plans being put in place. Child Protection Plans are plans which can be put in place where social services have concerns about the way in which a child or children are being looked after.
The researchers said while public and professional vigilance was welcome, the number of alerts received by social services meant staff were wasting their time on innocent families, and making it harder to find the children who are ‘at risk’.
This study follows a series of high profile cases where serious child abuse has been missed by social workers. As a result social workers are under intense pressure to make sure they do not miss any child ‘at risk’, and end up checking on more of the reports they receive than is necessary, the research suggests.
Lead researcher, Professor Andy Bilson said that other data showed how much time reports took up. He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the majority of these concerns probably were not ones that were founded:
"We have this mantra that says it's everybody's job to safeguard children but what we are doing doesn't actually safeguard children.
"Creating these huge numbers of referrals of concern is like creating a huge, extra big haystack in which we are trying to find the needle of the children who are really at risk."
"If you are a parent and someone has logged a complaint about you, it doesn't matter if you aren't formally investigated, you will still feel that you are under threat."
Our specialist childcare solicitors regularly speak with parents who find themselves subject to investigation by social services. We appreciate that it can be a frightening and stressful time and we strive to provide you with reassurance as to what to expect in the investigation process, as well as practical assistance should your children be made subject to Child Protection Plans.
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