Saturday, 17 May 2014

Outsourcing angst

It is hard not to agree with much of the the letter written this week to the Guardian by 37 professors and other senior figures in child protection and associated research.

Alarmingly they raise the possibility that private security companies would be among the providers of outsourced child protection services. I say 'alarmingly' because to my knowledge companies of that type have no track record of providing anything that resembles current local authority child protection services.

One thing that business strategists tell us is that an organisation requires 'a distinctive competence'  to successfully enter an area of activity.  I can only suggest that any local authority that outsourced its child protection services to an organisation which had no experience or proven competence in child protection would be acting recklessly.

In Britain there are, perhaps, some charities which have child protection expertise. It might also be possible to form mutual organisations or partnerships composed of experienced and highly qualified practitioners. There is little evidence, however, that there are currently large, established private sector companies that have the necessary experience and expertise.

As I said in a post last month on this subject, I think the biggest danger here is that we will all fall into a debate about outsourcing and lose sight of the main issue: how to improve service quality.