Home > Accounting > Analysis of Risk and Regulation > Events > Previous seminars > Protecting Children from Maltreatment and Protecting Agencies from Blame: Can They Be Compatible?


Protecting Children from Maltreatment and Protecting Agencies from Blame: Can They Be Compatible?

Professor Eileen Munro
London School of Economics

Date: 9 March 2010
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
: CARR Seminar Room, G305


The death of Baby Peter in Haringey in 2007 shocked the public who questioned whether the detailed government policy aimed at improving child protection services in England was working effectively. In this seminar, the distinction between societal and managerial risk is used in analysing the development of risk management in child protection. Demands to reduce societal risk (of serious harm or death to children from maltreatment) are hard to meet adequately because of the complexity of the problem. The increased demand for transparency, the development of a detailed audit and inspection system, and the attempts to improve professional practice through increased use of protocols and procedures all combine to create a new way of managing institutional risk - of demonstrating that one has done the procedurally 'right' action. Like many other services, senior management hope that a defence of 'due diligence' will protect them from blame. However, the robustness of this defence is undermined by the reality of a brutal child death such as that of Baby Peter. The problem of creating a more constructive link between managing risk to children and risk to agencies is discussed.

About the speaker

Eileen Munro is a Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics. She was a social worker for many years before taking up an academic career. She has studied philosophy, in particular the philosophy of science, and this has fuelled her interest in the reasoning skills needed in social work. Her current research interests are in how best to combine intuitive and analytic reasoning in risk assessment and decision making in child protection. She is also studying the role of the wider organisational system in promoting or hindering good critical thinking. In collaboration with SCIE, she has been adapting the systems approach to investigating adverse events in aviation and health to the social care field.