Friday, 27 May 2011

Getting to grips with the Munro Review

I have already predicted that people will find it difficult to adjust to the very different approach which is implicit in the Munro Review. A good example came to light this week in the form of a blog entry on the Children and Young People Now website by Peter Houselander (The Munro Review - A new vision for child protection? C&YP Now blogs -  25/5/11 )

Peter notes Munro's endorsement of early intervention but he seems to assume that this implies that Munro is endorsing the information sharing initiatives of the previous government. Accordingly most of his entry is devoted to talk of removing barriers to information sharing and authorities having "...the right data sharing agreements and technology in place...." It sounds like a response to Every Child Matters rather than to the Munro Review.

In fact the Munro Review is skeptical of the value of information sharing. Munro writes: “A consistent finding from SCRs is that there is often a failure in the human performance, rather than an absence of the required framework, process, or procedures for sharing information.” (page 148)

Every Child Matters promoted the naive idea that simply as a result of having systems which shared more data between different agencies children would be less likely to slip through the net. Nine years on - and countless information sharing initiatives by the last Government - all we have is IT initiatives (like ICS) which continue to be both costly and unsatisfactory and no apparent impact on the safety or welfare of children, except the remorseless undermining of their data protection rights.

A careful reading of the Munro Review reveals how far her thinking is from the old paradigms. Children are made safer by contact with professionals who listen to them and take careful, thoughtful action - not by data exchanges!