Gib’s commitment to child protection at all levels
Gibraltar‘s restructured multi-agency Child Protection Committee (CPC) is conducting an intensive programme of training and professional development at Bleak House this week.
The training is being delivered by Julie Dugdale, a leading UK Government policy adviser and a senior consultant at the Bernardo’s Child Care Agency in the UK.
This follows the inaugural meeting of the newly restructured executive Child Protection Committee which was opened by Mr Costa late last month.
The Committee brings together key agencies such as the Care Agency, the Royal Gibraltar Police, Probation Services, Youth Services, the Gibraltar Health Authority, the Department of Education, and others, to ensure that local safeguarding arrangements and child protection procedures are effective.
Mr Costa opened the week-long programme yesterday with an address in which he highlighted the importance of the training programme in making Gibraltar as safe as possible for children.
Mr Costa told delegates that it was important to start the process of training as soon as possible not just for the professionals that form part of the Executive but also for those officials that would have to delegate responsibilities to implement the systems agreed upon by the Executive.
The programme will be divided into three segments.
The first is aimed at the CPC executive, which includes heads of key Government departments and agencies across the public sector.
Their task is to consult and coordinate working systems with other relevant organisations to provide an effective child protection service.
The second part of the training encompasses the CPC operational arm, comprising of officials with delegated responsibilities to ensure that the systems that are introduced to secure these aims are functioning properly.
Designated officers for child protection, selected from all public sector entities, comprise the third tier of the training programme. As experts in the field within their own ambit, they are entrusted with child protection and safeguarding issues in the workplace, for instance, in schools or in a government department.
The Committee has a number of sub-committees that deal with several aspects of child protection issues, including overseeing online safety for children, the dangers of grooming and the protection of children against online sexual predators.
Gibraltar is a very small place but it is “perfectly well resourced” to deal with the challenges that individual cases throw up, Mr Costa said.
He added that it was unfortunate that the public only gets to hear about the great work that the key agencies do when there has been an incident and someone has ‘fallen through the cracks’.
But, cracks in the system are “precisely the thing we are here to learn from”, Mr Costa told delegates.
When cases do crop up that require additional attention and resources, Mr Costa said he was completely assured that all the relevant agencies pull together to ensure that a vulnerable child or young adult has all the resources and protection that they require.
Mr Costa said: “The Care Agency is doing extraordinary work in the field of child protection and this week’s training programme is further testament to the commitment and hard work of all the professionals involved in this vital area of social services and the continuing aim to make Gibraltar as safe as possible for our children.”
“It is clear that in cases of children and young person’s at risk, early intervention is crucial. Further, by providing the adequate support to families at the right time, it is possible to avert issues before they arise.”
“This is one of the many reasons why the work of the Child Protection Committee is so important and why the Gibraltar Government is fully behind every initiative to make its work more efficient, more professional and more accountable.”
Care Agency CEO Natalie Tavares said: “The training has been organised to ensure that each member in the Committee fully understands their role and responsibilities and so that they have a clearer understanding of our strategic approach and our respective roles.”