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New Child Protection Committee appointed, with key focus on mental health

The Minister with responsibility for Children, Samantha Sacramento, this week chaired a meeting of the Child Protection Committee, which was revised and restructured recently including the appointment of new members.

The committee was created under the Children Act 2009 to bring together key agencies to ensure local safeguarding arrangements and child protection procedures are effective.

The new committee was appointed by the Minister for Health and Care for a period of three years and will seek to give renewed impetus to child protection and safeguarding procedures, while promoting the general mental and physical wellbeing of youngsters.

One of the central focus of the revamped Child Protection Committee will include an emphasis on mental health and how these issues affect children in Gibraltar.

The emphasis on mental health comes in light of the experience during the Covid-19 lockdown, when there was a sharp increase in the number of referrals to the Care Agency relating to child and domestic abuse.

The new committee will also operate under greater transparency and accountability parameters, No.6 Convent Place said.

These will include a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of the performance and effectiveness of local services, identifying areas of weaknesses, its causes, and the remedial action required or being taken to address them.

Additionally, the minister has commissioned training for the members of the committee to develop their strategic governance of safeguarding and protection of children in Gibraltar.

The Committee will a streamlined structure, entrusted with the coordination of policies and strategic aims within properly defined rules and responsibilities for its members.

The Committee will be chaired by the Chief Executive of the Care Agency and brings together representatives from key agencies, including the Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, the Director of Education, the Medical Director of the Gibraltar Health Authority, the Director of Nursing and Ambulance service, the Clinical Lead for Mental Health, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Senior Crown Counsel from the Ministry for Justice and the Care Agency, as well as representatives from other relevant areas of the public service.

Care Agency CEO Carlos Banderas said: “The new committee will be an effective mechanism in achieving our overriding aim of continuously improving child protection measures and interventions in Gibraltar.”

“It will have our children’s interests at heart and ensure we can provide the necessary protection at all times.”

Ms Sacramento added: “As we carefully emerge from the effects of the pandemic, it gives me great pleasure to launch the newly constituted Child Protection Committee.”

“The existence of a professional and well-resourced multiagency and multi-disciplinary committee will ensure that the welfare and well-being of children and young people in Gibraltar is safeguarded.”

“Worrying data has emerged from this period in relation to child abuse in domestic settings, and I look forward to receiving the committee’s invaluable advice in order to ensure that our children’s needs and interests are put at the centre of all our safeguarding policies.”

“We need to ensure that Gibraltar has the highest standards in Child Safeguarding and Child Protection across the board to ensure the welfare of all children and young people, and this strategic work will be led by this important committee.”

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